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Bioggio, Archaeological Itinerary

From Paganism to Christianisation

Svizzera, Cantone Ticino, BIOGGIO


(CH 1903) E   710480 N   98920 H   319.0
(WGS 84) Long.   8.866 Lat.   46.033
INTERESSE CONTESTUALE Didactic, Archaeological, Historical
ARCHAEOSITE   settlement


Bioggio, overlooking the River Vedeggio, lies on the road which, even in Roman times, connected the Lombardy plain and Rezia, across the Monte Ceneri and Lucomagno mountain passes. This unique location was confirmed by excavations conducted in the 1990s, and enhanced by the archaeological itinerary created in 1999. The wall surrounding the holy area can be viewed from the first stopping point, in the municipal car park. Marble pieces from the small first to second century CE Roman temple, unique in Ticino, are on display below the Church Square, together with an altar bearing an inscription dedicated to Giove Nennico (Jupiter Nennico), probably the name of a local divinity worshipped in the area and associated with Jupiter. At the second stopping point, at the council schools, there is an exhibition of a reconstruction of the country villa built in various phases between 150 CE and the fifth century, and equipped with a heating system. The third stop, below the Church Square, reveals the first Chiesa di S. Maurizio, established in the fifth to sixth centuries and demolished in 1790.


The holy area of Bioggio is the only Roman-era religious site excavated to date in Ticino. It consisted of a surrounding wall, at the centre of which lay a prostyle temple (with a portico on the façade), raised on a podium, and with two Corinthian capital pillars constructed from white marble imported from Proconnesus (Asia Minor). Standing in front of the temple were two circular trenches used for sacrificial remains and bounded by a rectangular space where a mortared pillar base can still be seen. After the building was destroyed by fire, the eighteen marble pieces of the small temple were laid out carefully next to each other. The temple was probably dedicated to Giove Ottimo Massimo Nennico (Jupiter Optimus Maximus Nennico), a divinity of the Capitoline triad associated with the name of a local divinity, as suggested by the votive altar found in the course of the excavations.


The earliest archaeological evidence found in Bioggio consists of three funerary steles, or stone slabs, dating back to the Iron Age and with North Etruscan alphabet inscriptions. One of these was re-utilised as an Early Middle Ages tombstone of Saint Maurice, while the other two were salvaged from alluvial deposits found in the holy Roman area. All the steles bear the names of the deceased inscribed inside a rough drawing of an anthropomorphic figure, and the term “PALA”, referring to the stele. The three pieces testify to the presence of a pre-Roman necropolis, the location of which has not yet been identified.
scala temporale periodi geologici


By public transport: take the small FLP Lugano-Ponte Tresa train to Bioggio, then walk for 10 minutes toward the centre, to Via Valle Maggiore (municipal car park). By car: motorway A2, exit Lugano Nord, then take Strada Regina toward Manno-Bioggio, turn right onto Via Cademario, then left onto Via S. Maurizio, and right onto Via Valle Maggiore as far as the car park.



CARDANI VERGANI, R., Bioggio: un esempio di continuità civile e cultuale dalla romanità al Medioevo, in Archeologia Svizzera, 1998, fasc.4, pp. 155-162.
AA.VV., Bioggio, Guida ai monumenti svizzeri SSAS, 2008.
AA.VV., Bioggio, in Il Piano del Vedeggio, dalla strada regina all'aeroporto, a cura di Panzera F. Bellinzona, SalvioniEdizioni, 2008.


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Programma di cooperazione transfrontaliera Italia - Svizzera 2007 - 2013 Progetto cofinanziato dal Fondo Europeo Sviluppo Regionale (FESR)
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