Discovering Malcantone on foot: the old water powered forge of Aranno (Maglio di Aranno) with kids

È da un po’ di tempo che abbiamo voglia di percorrere il Sentiero delle Meraviglie nel Malcantone, però è un po’ lungo (4 ore) e noi non siamo certo escursionisti provetti. Alla fine decidiamo di percorrerne solo una breve parte, con destinazione il Maglio di Aranno. Trovo un articolo interessante su un blog, con tutte le dovute spiegazioni, e così decidiamo di andarci.

aranno, bus stop

The directions on the blog described how to get there by car from Ponte Tresa, whereas we would have arrived by bus from Lugano station (with a change in Cademario Lisone); we first took bus 422 9 in direction Cademario Kurhaus and then transferred to bus 424 610 in direction Agno, Posta / FLP. We got off at the Aranno Paese bus stop and soon discovered two important facts:

  • The walk described in the blog starts with Breno and not Aranno!
  • I am wearing my Birkenstocks and I have forgotten my trekking shoes at home.

As I am not used to cry over spilt milk, I face the fact that I am an imperfect hiker and decide to stick to the Maglio plan!

aranno, trail signsThe trail

A few meters from the bus stop there are signs showing the various trails in the area, two of which lead to the Maglio di Aranno… we choose the shortest, which starts after the village. Have you seen that trail that starts along the road, on the left side, with a steep descent? Well, that is it! There is no sign, just a white / red / white path marker; so if you, like us, have reached a small Chapel, you’ll need to retrace your steps, as you will have missed the trailhead!

The path is all downhill and shaded, it is also quite steep but easy to walk (even with Birkenstocks). In about 25-30 minutes, we reach the Magliasina River, where we cross an iron bridge and arrive at the Forge. Our kid sees the wide meadows and pastures, families getting ready for a picnic/barbecue, children wading the river, a waterfall … and he is very happy! He begins to run about, then remembers he has come to see the forge and asks what a forge is; we explain that it is a big ancient hammer used to forge iron, driven by a paddle wheel moved by the power of water. A bit like a water mill, actually.

aranno, forgeThe Aranno water powered forge (Maglio di Aranno)

We go inside the building to see how this particular “lever” forge (it is the only one of its type still in existence in Ticino) and find it beautiful, especially when the keeper puts it into operation and the noise of the hammer on the anvil becomes deafening. In the small museum, you can see some of the tools and objects that were “roughly shaped” in the past in these types of forges (they would then be refinished elsewhere, by a blacksmith). Then we admire the wheel and its shafts as they rotate, powered by the nearby stream.

Suddenly we smell a barbeque… and we realize that it is lunchtime and that we have not brought anything to eat (we had not planned to spend such a long time at the forge). Thank goodness, there is a kiosk selling bread, salami and goat or cow milk cheese, served with honey, walnuts and cherries. Maybe it is because we are hungry, but they are delicious. We also have an ice cream and soak our feet in the river … The water is refreshing, chilly even, and we have a lot of fun!

aranno, riverThe return

In the afternoon, we decide to return to Aranno following the longer trail, which should take us back to the village in 45 minutes. It takes us a little longer, but it does not matter – it is also less steep than the one on the way there and it is a part of the Trail of Marvels. Once we reach the village, we wander around a bit, exploring some old traditional stone buildings, an ancient wash house and an amazing playground, made of wood, just as we like it. Before getting our bus back, the icing on the cake – daddy finds three large mulberry trees, which we shamelessly pillage.

This article appeared on 6 July 2018 on the Extrasette magazine of the Corriere del Ticino.

aranno playground

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