A lump of houses at the end of a long, winding and narrow street, which leads only there. Then mountains, woods and a crevasse, beyond which the Italian territory ends and the Swiss one begins.

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A lump of houses at the end of a long, winding and narrow street, which leads only there. Then mountains, woods and a crevasse, beyond which the Italian territory ends and the Swiss one begins.

The old and delightful village of Erbonne, a handful of well-kept stone houses with red flowers on the windows and a horseshoe on the entrance doors to let fortune enter.

Erbonne counts 50 buildings between houses and stables and the population that does not exceed ten units. There is a tavern, a telephone, a wash house and the small museum of the Guard of Finance. It is nestled on the Italian side of Mount Generoso, on the borders of the Canton Ticino. Here they are all called Cereghetti or Puricelli. Some are Swiss, others have dual nationality. An unusual village, with a millenary history, where time seems to have stopped. To find it, just get to Argegno, on the shore of Lake Como. Then you have to turn towards the Intelvi valley and then climb up to San Fedele Intelvi and then up again at almost a thousand meters high. There, about ten meters from the Swiss border, is Erbonne, a town with a millenary and mysterious history.

Foundation of the village

A few years ago, at the end of a series of archaeological excavations, flints worked by Neanderthals were found in a period estimated at between 50 and 60 thousand years ago. The foundation of the village, on the other hand, dates back to about a thousand years before the birth of Christ. In ancient times this place was inhabited with continuity. This is probably due to its location near a pass towards the Muggio Valley and the Chiasso plain.

From the nearby cave La Tana, on the slopes of Mount Generoso, come artefacts dating back to the Mesolithic. From the analysis it is possible to reconstruct a vegetation with strong development of the mixed forest with silver fir associated with beech and ash. Furthermore, fragments of pottery and a bronze ax were found dating from the end of the Bronze Age to the eighth century BC. During the construction of the Church a tomb of the second Iron Age was discovered. This contained two jars, a Roman coin of the Republican age and two bronze rings.

Burlanda and sfrusaddu

Given its location a few meters from the Swiss border, Erbonne was one of the contraband junctions. Beaten until a few decades ago by smugglers who entertained a dense trade in both directions. Coffee, sugar and cigarettes passed through here. Here was also built a small four-meter-by-four finance station barracks closed in 1977. Since 2000 it has been transformed into a micro museum housing uniforms, backpacks, shoes and all the other pieces of the trade. Erbonne, with its incredible stories, is above all a place with breathtaking views. From here start beautiful paths for long walks immersed in nature. Erbonne is an ancient village where silence is truly broken only by the ticking of pendulum clocks. And then, in Erbonne, when night falls, the stars seem so close that you want to touch them with a finger.

Views to Erbonne

And for those who want to experience the thrill of still reaching Switzerland on foot, just take a bridge built in 2005. You are directly in Swiss territory, at the start of an impassable path along a couple of kilometers that leads to the town of Scudellate, in the Muggio valley. It is mandatory to have the documents with you, as it is also possible to come across the controls.

A great record that makes Erbonne a unique city in the world. No shops, schools, public offices. Only a small refreshment point, the inevitable wash-house, a small church and a graveyard. For about 500 years the inhabitants of Erbonne have never paid taxes to anyone. Later they paid them to the municipality of San Fedele d’Intelvi without getting any service in return. Here until 1911 the coffins had to be carried to the woods up to the Scudellate cemetery. Only in 1954 was the only road leading to San Fedele built.

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