The Monte Verità Foundation and Insubrica Historica present a project that retraces the journey of Jews, partisans, and refugees between 1943 and 1945. During that period many people, escaping from war-torn Italy and the racial laws, found refuge in nearby Switzerland. The hospitality and brotherhood between the populations of these two neighboring countries allowed most of those people to be hosted in the Swiss Confederation, thus saving their lives.

The project, curated by Nicoletta Mongini, Cultural Director of the Monte Verità Foundation, and Raphael Rues, founder of Insubrica Historica, was presented on 17 September 2023 and has been made possible with the support of the Ente Regionale per lo Sviluppo Locarnese e Vallemaggia, the Borgo of Ascona, the Municipality of Brissago, the City of Cannobio, and the City of Verbania.

The idea is based on the premise that places are increasingly becoming the guardians of important memories to be preserved, as direct witnesses become rarer. Despite the richness of literature with texts and testimonies, locations can transmit stories that bind Italy and Switzerland more effectively and warmly, evoking the principles of hospitality and solidarity that united them and are now needed in many countries around the world.

Portraits of great women and men, dramatic episodes, stories of hope and defeat characterize this narrative, which is symbolically marked by 17 metal plaques equipped with a QR Code. Once scanned, the code links to the profiles available on this website. The plaques in the municipalities of Ascona, Brissago, Cannobio, and Verbania allow us to remember and keep alive the memory of what happened eighty years ago in these border areas.

The profiles – those of Lilly Volkart, Wladimir Rosenbaum, Silvio Baccalà, and Vincenzo Martinetti –, tragic events, like the massacre of Fondotoce, and escapes through the mountains near the border contribute to solidify a narrative so that this memory can survive. The purpose of the "Path of Hope" is to give the public the opportunity, either by foot or private and public transportation, to become aware of the historical places that saw the presence of refugees on the shores of Lake Verbano, during the last world conflict. The main goal is to illustrate how the entire Insubrica region experienced dramatic but shared moments, animated by the hope of a better future. The project aims to be a collective rite of knowledge of the past and a contribution to the identity of our territory. The proximity that characterized the populations of the two countries, especially in Cantone Ticino, is evident. Over 85% of the Jews who sought refuge there were actually welcomed: the role of the Ticinese authorities and the population itself was significant in the subsequent reopening of the borders on the two occasions when they were closed as established by the Confederation (during the German occupation in Italy, after September 8, and after the decree of the Italian Social Republic in November '43, which imposed the arrest of all Jews).