The holidays have started, and the weather is changeable, so it requires a change of plans… so we are going to visit the Swiss Customs Museum in Gandria, in Italian Museo delle Dogane di Gandria.
The museum is located on the shores of Lake Lugano right in front of the village of Gandria, on the opposite shore. You need to get there by boat, which means finding one (unless you have a private boat). I tell you this because the boat thing is not something people usually think about.
How to reach the museum by boat
We parked our car in the village main car park, we walked down to the pier and we bought the combo ticket (boat ride and entrance to the museum!) Then we hopped onto one of the many frequent boats and… in less than ten minutes we reached the museum. The kids had a lot of fun, and the boat ride was an added bonus, though personally I found the price of the short ride a bit pricey!
The Swiss Customs Museum
On the ground floor of the museum the permanent exhibition focuses on the daily life, living conditions and work of the border guards in the past. The explanations are captivating and interesting, and we discovered many facts we did not know.
Upstairs is where you find special and temporary exhibitions, often of international importance. Everyone in our group was fascinated by the objects that were seized by border guards and by the hideouts devised by smugglers in the past.
The museum is modern and technological, very interactive and interesting for children and youngsters, who can “learn” about this aspect of the past, without any help from adults.
Counterfeit products, which are imported illegally, are often unsafe or often pose health dangers – sometimes these products are geared towards the kids’ market.
The kids were surprised, and what they had just found out fueled a very interesting talk on the topic.
On the top flor you will find a terrace with breathtaking lake views. It is suitable for a picnic or a snack break.
We saw an exhibition dedicated to the well-known Swiss photojournalist Gottardo Schuh, “The Island of the Gods”, a very suggestive collection of photographs taken on the island of Bali (open until 22 October 2017).
And what about the objects that were seized? What are they? Where do they end up? Why were they seized? The explanations in Italian / French / German / English help understand the smugglers’ world.
The path to the Cantine di Gandria
On one side of the museum, there is also a garden with a “border guard” station, which is very nice and suitable for a picnic or snack break, too. If you walk along the lakefront path, amid green fields and flowers, you reach Cantine di Gandria. Cantine are old wine cellars. We did not have time to visit them (we had to take a boat across the lake) but we said to each other that we would come back soon!
Goodbye Swiss Customs Museum, we have spent a very pleasant afternoon.