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Tremona Castle

Svizzera, Cantone Ticino, MENDRISIO


(CH 1903) E   718055 N   82610 H   649.0
(WGS 84) Long.   8.959 Lat.   45.885
INTERESSE CONTESTUALE Didactic, Archaeological, Historical
ARCHAEOSITE   settlement


The fortified village of Tremona lies on a natural hill on the western bank of the Laveggio, overlooking parts of the Como, Varese, Mendrisio and Basso Ceresio areas, and therefore controlling the main road networks between Castelseprio and the Alpine Passes. The excavations under way since 1991, conducted by ARAM (Associazione Ricerche Archeologiche del Mendrisiotto - Association of Archaeological Research for the Mendrisio Region) and directed by Prof. Alfio Martinelli, have uncovered approximately forty buildings and a large number of finds testifying that the site was occupied from the Neolithic Period to the Late Middle Ages, although with less evidence of the Roman Period and the Early Middle Ages. The remains of the village are found on two terraces and occupy an area measuring more than 4,500 square metres. The lower terrace holds 38 dwelling buildings and workshops dating back to the tenth to thirteenth centuries and abandoned as a result of a military attack. The upper area, with the tower and the fortified enclosure, is currently being excavated and will provide information of crucial importance for enhancing our understanding of the site.


Tremona is the only medieval village in Canton Ticino that has been extensively excavated. The lower terrace area, completely excavated, contains 38 dwelling houses and workshops dating back to the tenth to thirteenth centuries which were abruptly abandoned following a military attack, testified to by traces of fire and by the numerous arrowheads found. The upper terrace area, which is currently being excavated, consists of higher-quality masonry buildings grouped together around the tower and surrounded by a fortified enclosure. These features appear to indicate that the function of this terrace differed from that of the lower one. The excavations conducted to date have uncovered numerous finds (pottery, metal, glass, bone, soapstone), particularly from the Neolithic and Medieval eras, allowing us to gain an understanding of the lifestyles and activities of the inhabitants. More specifically, metal working has been proven by the presence of metal casting waste, together with bronze and iron bars, while bone wool-winders and spindles show that the people span yarn. Moreover, analyses conducted on the significant quantities of carbonized organic remains have made it possible to ascertain the eating habits of the local population: their diet was based on major grains (barley, rye, wheat, oats), minor grains (sorghum, millet), legumes (peas, lentils, cicherchia beans) and fruit (chestnuts, walnuts, medlars, apples); the numerous butchered bones found on the site show that their diet also consisted of pork, mutton, goat and beef.


Excavations at Tremona have uncovered a number of distinctive bronze and glass paste buckles and clasps decorated with anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures, and with plant designs. These sophisticated objects are unique in the Ticino area and can be traced back to goldsmiths working in the Ottonian period. Found in a rural context, they show that Tremona was probably visited by people from the highest sectors of society, opening up new horizons for the interpretation of medieval villages.
scala temporale periodi geologici


By bus: from Mendrisio station, take the bus going to Meride and get off at Gurnaga. Continue toward the town centre on foot, then climb up to the castle (15 minutes). By car: motorway A2, exit at Mendrisio, follow directions for Varese/Stabio and take the Genestrerio exit; follow directions for Besazio / Arzo, turn right to Tremona. Leave the car in one of the municipal parking spaces and continue to the castle on foot (approximately 20 minutes).



- MARTINELLI, A., Tremona Castello. Dal V millenni a.C. al XIII sec. d.C., All'Insegna del Giglio, Firenze, 2008.
- MARTINELLI, A., LEHMANN, S.,Tremona-Castello - Vorläufiger Bericht zu den Untersuchungen in einem mittelalterlichen Dorf des Südtessins von 1998 bis 2007, in Medioevo 2007/4, 121-142.
- MARTINELLI, A., Il sito multiperiodico di Tremona-Castello, in Bollettino Associazione Archeologica Ticinese, 2005, 12-17.


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