Capital of the Canton Ticino
Bellinzona is the capital of the canton Ticino in Switzerland. The city is famous for its three castles (Castelgrande, Montebello, Sasso Corbaro) that have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2000.The town lies east of the Ticino river, at the foot of the Alps. It stretches along the river valley, surrounded by the southern ranges of the Lepontine Alps to the east and west, and by the Lugano Prealps to the south.
Name and coat of arms
The toponym is first attested in 590 in Latin as Belitio or Bilitio (in the accusative, Bilitionem), by Gregory of Tours.The name is Lepontic in origin, possibly from belitio or belitione (“juniper bushes”).During the medieval period, the name is found as Berinzona, Birrinzona, Birizona,Beliciona and Belinzona.The German name of the town is Bellenz. A local folk etymology derives the name Bellinzona from zona bellica “war zone”, making a connection to the Italian Wars.The blazon of the municipal coat of arms is an erect serpent in silver on a red field. The fabulous animal is called in Italian “Biscione”. This animal, which can also be found on the arms of the Alfa Romeo car company, is linked with the Visconti family, who were feudal lords of Bellinzona in the 14th and 15th centuries.