Totem Ticino

Piazza Ticino is elliptical, a shape that lends itself well to expressing the concept of having more than one central point. In fact, the canton has always been divided in two between the Sopraceneri and Sottoceneri areas and into three by its three main cities (Bellinzona, Locarno and Lugano). The Ticino Totem stands in one of the two “focal points” of the ellipse. 

The sculpture is made from rock excavated during the creation of the AlpTransit tunnels. Since the start of the twenty-first century, three major railway tunnels have created an infrastructure able to transform the alpine crossing into a level railway. The Ceneri Base Tunnel, which is 15.4 km long, runs from Camorino to Vezia and opened to traffic in 2020. It was the most recent to be built and follows on from the Lötschberg and Gotthard Base Tunnels. 

© swisstopo

The Ticino Totem shows us the heart of Monte Ceneri, the material from which our Alps and Prealps are made. From clay to sandstone, limestone and gneiss, all the way through to marble, and then quartzite and granites. The illuminated lines that surround it instead show us the routes that have crossed the mountain for centuries: the “Strada Regina” towards Rivera; the “Strada Francesca” towards Cadenazzo (now followed by the Via del Ceneri and For-Ti Monte Ceneri); and the “Strada Romana” (now known as the Montecenerino) towards Quartino.