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Sixteenth century farmhouse gets new home

The courtyard of the Ticino farmhouse to be reconstructed in Ballenberg Keystone

Stone by stone, an old farmhouse in canton Ticino is being moved across the Alps to become an attraction in Ballenberg, canton Bern.

The 16th century building is to be the centrepiece of a “Ticinese quarter” at Ballenberg, which will be inaugurated in 2003 to mark the 200th anniversary of when the Italian-speaking canton joined the Swiss Confederation.

About 100 buildings from all over Switzerland have been reconstructed at the museum since it opened in 1978 next to Lake Brienz. But this latest “house-moving” operation promises to be the most complicated to date.

Over the next few weeks every brick, stone, tile and timber will be carefully dismantled and given a number. The actual removal was originally intended to be by road. But the temporary closure of the Gotthard tunnel to heavy traffic led to a change of plans, and the farmhouse will now arrive in Ballenberg by rail.

The estimated cost – which includes the transfer of an old stone barn, a washhouse and other smaller buildings – of about SFr5 million ($3 million) will be shared by the Confederation, Canton Ticino and the museum.

Architect Giovanni Buzzi, who is responsible for the building’s dismantlement, transport and reconstruction, has spoken of the need for Ticino to both safeguard its roots and improve its presence at Ballenberg. “There is no better solution than this one,” he said.

The farmhouse, in the village of Novazzano near Chiasso, had for years been allowed to fall into disrepair. The last family to live there moved out in 1980.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR