Before refrigerators were invented, our grandparents would store their perishable foods in a grotto – somewhere in the shade or in a cave where it would still be pleasantly cool even during warm summer days. With the modernisation of cooling methods, grottos also gradually came into their own.
The term “grotto” can be traced back to a natural rock cave, also known as a “grotte”. The inhabitants of Ticino originally stored cheese, ham and wine there. Over time, the storage caves developed into meeting places for social gatherings where farmers invited people to taste their wine and produce. Following the licensing of the first taverns in the 19th century, the grottos developed into public houses during the 20th century.
The rock cellars of long ago have since been transformed into simple, traditional stone houses with characteristic terraces. The grottos are very popular with locals and tourists alike who appreciate the authentic atmosphere, warm welcome and traditional dishes.
“Anyone who has never sat on a stone bench, in the shadow of the trees,
with a Boccalino (tankard) in one hand and a steaming Polenta in the other – in short –
anyone who has never visited a grotto, should make up for lost time without further