Brontallo, Canton Ticino, Switzerland

Brontallo is situated in the Maggiatal Valley, a side arm of the Ticino River, and belongs to the municipality of Lavizzara. The small locality has 60 inhabitants and had been an individual municipality until 2004.

The attractions of the main locality Locarno and the extreme challenges of farming in mountainous terrain as an economic base endangered to make Brontallo a dying location in the middle of a declining man-made landscape. When this trend was realised, the foundation „ProBrontallo“ was founded, mainly with the technical and financial support of the agricultural administration on confederate and regional level, which planned and implemented an extensive agrarian project.

Based on improved infrastructure such as modernised water and energy supply in the locality and linked to selected transport routes, a vision of quality agrotourism has been developed, seeing itself as a substitute and accompanying economy to the traditional farming activities.

To this end the actions in the scope of the project, which also has pilot character, are not only manifold and comprehensive, but also characterized through close links between agriculture and tourism. For example, the „Graa“, a facility for the drying of sweet chestnuts has been refurbished and the chestnut mill has been repaired and taken into operation again. The Chestnut groves have been cleaned up and improved through grafting and new goat stables have been built in order to increase the production of the tasty Formaggini (goat cheese). The Pergola tendrils were given more space, resulting also in the renovation of the cellar for Grappa products and the dry stone terrace.

It should also be pointed out that individual „Rustici“, the traditional tower houses with roofs from stone plates have been rebuild and turned into holiday apartments that can be rented. The activities and initiatives in Brontallo aim at the conservation of a unique man-made landscape as a material identification factor, but also as valuable capital for tourism, giving the farmers a new source of income through direct marketing of regional products and accommodation of guests.

More than half of the foundation members of „ProBrontallo“ does not live in the locality or does not even originate from there. This can be seen as a sign of regional consciousness, approval and support from the private sector. Brontallo has managed in an exemplary way to counter the seemingly traced out destiny and to develop a capable agrotourism for the future through a number of interconnected quality actions. As a result it was awarded a „European Village Renewal Award for Special Achievements in multiple fields of Village Development“.