Short History

Ronco sopra Ascona’s origin lies in remote times, when the hilly area on which the municipality now rises was deforested and tilled by the inhabitants of Ascona to make way for fields with vineyards and olive groves. The term ronco, used today in every day language with the meaning of terraced estate or hill, in fact, derives from the Latin verb runcare that means to deforest, to till.

The first mention of Ronco, referred to as Roncho de Schona, dates back to 1264. At that time, the medieval village was already more or less the same size as today’s ancient town centre. In the 14th and the 15th Centuries it had about 500 inhabitants and although it was politically a part of Ascona, it is said to have enjoyed a certain amount of autonomy and to have administered itself democratically. The road to independence started in 1626, the year in which Ronco became an independent parish and ended in 1641, when it reached its political autonomy.

The history of this small village was, for the most part, characterized by a farming economy and the seasonal transhumance to the Monti di Ronco. For many centuries, viticulture took on a very important role. Bearing witness to this fact are the terraces that from the lake extend all the way up to and above the village and the numerous wine cellars still present in the old town centre.
Emigration that started in the 14th Century was another important social and economic factor for Ronco. In fact, many were the people from Ronco who got organized in companies and went abroad in search of good fortune; at first they only went seasonally to Italy and then, from the second half of the 19th  Century on, even Overseas. Among these people was the famous painter from Ronco Antonio Ciseri (1821-1891) who was trained and later worked in Florence and who was the author of such masterpieces as The Martyrdom of the Maccabees, Transport of Christ to the Sepulchre and Ecce Homo.

With the advent of industrialization, farming was progressively abandoned and disappeared almost completely with the economic recovery of the second post-war period, which brought remarkable economic improvements and radical social changes to the village. Starting in this period, in fact, Ronco saw the beginning of frenetic construction activities that led to the disappearance of the ancient vineyards and olive groves that in a few decades transformed this small village of peasants and shepherds into today’s tourist destination, famous for the stunning beauty of its enchanting view.