The Via del Ceneri has linked the northern and southern Alps for centuries. The existence of a route with no real alternatives led to the development of brigandage. The phenomenon is described in the area from as early as mediaeval times.
Brigands continued to plague the route even after the opening of the surfaced road in 1811 and the start of the mail coach service in 1835. The coach that left Bellinzona on the evening of 12 October 1864, headed for Lugano, was the target of the bandits’ final raid in the woods of Robasacco.
The attack was led by Costantino Genotti, a famous brigand from Leventina Valley. A Lombard trader was killed by a pistol shot. Genotti was arrested and sentenced to death in 1866. However, his sentence was never carried out. Genotti died in prison in Lugano in 1878.