Story: Finding one's place among donkeys

In the saddle, through the breathtaking Blenio Valley

In her former life, Susanne Bigler Gloor worked in the management of a large bank. Today she's surrounded by donkeys, mules and alpacas in Bleniotal, where she offers trekking and other nature ex...

Hitch a ride on a donkey through the Blenio Valley? The children are beaming, and their parents are amazed as everyone discovers something new about the world and themselves, thanks to the resident donkeys and mules of Villa Somarelli in Cumiasca. It's a place where you can share the ordinary as well as the extraordinary with these animals in the breathtaking landscape of the Blenio Valley.


Susanne Bigler Gloor, trekking with animals

Susanne Bigler Gloor,  trekking with animals
This isn't an in-and-out experience. You should be prepared to open up to the animals and the surroundings.

It’s actually not so difficult to get a donkey to follow instructions. “An animal notices right away how focused someone is and acts accordingly,” says Susanne Bigler Gloor. 

To say Cumiasca is a steep climb is something of an understatement. Starting from Acquarossa, the road starts to wind up the mountain. At each sharp curve, the mountain vistas expand, while the vegetation grows wilder. The stables of Villa Somarelli lie on a sunny plateau in the heart of the Ticino peaks. 

Donkeys and mules graze in the shade of trees around the stone house. Around front, a small group of visitors attempts to lead their animals over a wooden plank in the middle of a ring.  

Around the back of the house, a group of children are preparing the donkeys and mules for an outing.

Rosemarie Herzig, a former midwife who’s found her new vocation here as the resident “granny”, shows the children how to use the halter correctly with the animals so as not to hurt them. 

Our animals all have personality: we have old couples, funny characters, divas and sweet-tempered individuals.

Susanne Bigler Gloor used to work in the management of a large bank in Bellinzona. Four years ago, she traded her office job for a stable of eight donkeys, five mules and four alpacas.

Donkeys are like cats – headstrong, and not very obedient. Mules are more like dogs – typical herd animals who allow themselves to be led. 

Blenio Valley, Finding one’s place among animals
Pro tip
What can you do when a donkey gets stubborn? Pull gently, stand up straight, stay focused on your goal and never doubt for a second that you're the boss.
At Villa Somarelli, you can celebrate everything from children's birthdays to an anniversary: you're guaranteed an unforgettable experience exploring the surroundings with the animals, not to mention enjoying stellar meals.
During the summer, Centro Pro Natura Lucomagno offers a variety of experiences to get up close to the wildlife of the Lukmanier Pass.

Each of the animals of Cumiasca has its own personality and charm. Introductions to the animals are the first order of business when guests arrive, so that they get to know Laura, Lupita and the others with all of their quirks and tics.

The trail to Alpe di Nara winds through gentle meadows and rugged peaks.

The children are focused on their task: they speak softly to the animals and put all the tips they’ve learned into practice.