Located in the south of Switzerland, Ticino has long been one of the most charming regions of the country. Lugano, Locarno and Ascona are three of the most idyllic towns to visit when you are there. More Mediterranean in climate than the rest of the country, Ticino offers the opportunity to visit her emerald lakes, cobbled stoned piazzas and medieval castles. You will find Italian spoken in this region and it’s easy to feel that you’re in Italy rather than Switzerland.
1. The beautiful Verzasca Valley: Winding her way up through tiny villages, this stunning valley is a great place to begin your journey of exploration. While here, do take the time to visit the double stone bridge ‘Ponti dei Salti’ in Lavertezzo. It sits over crystal clear waters of the river that slices its way through the valley. Most visitors are happy to take pictures of this bridge while some dive from it into the river below.
For the more daring, bungee jump off the Salvatica Dam from 220 metres into the rocks below. James Bond jumped off this dam in the 1995 ‘Golden Eye’ movie.
2. The three castles of Bellinzona: Built at three different levels, these medieval castles sit overlooking the town of Bellinzona. Begin at the very top with Sasso Corbora and walk around the inner courtyard. The Montebello Castle is home to the archaeological museum while the Castelgrande is nearest the city centre and definitely worth a visit. The morning I visited this castle, a bridal couple were enjoying their reception on the lawns.
During the summer, the Bellinzona piazza is the home of the weekly market where little stalls offer home-made cheese and polenta, a staple in this region.
3. Lugano: This city is the largest in the Ticino canton and quite modern with a cultural centre ‘Lugano Arte e Cultura’ at one end of the promenade. The centre houses a concert hall, theatre and modern art museum. Walking down the promenade alongside Lake Lugano and you will reach the piazza where you will find street artists, singers, musicians and stalls with local gastronomy. Chic boutique stores line the little inside lanes of the old town and speciality meats hang enticingly in local delicatessens.
4. Ascona: This town sits on Lake Maggiore and is surrounded by palm trees and so has a more Mediterranean feel to it. On the day that i was here, birds squawked overhead while a duck waddles alongside strolling visitors. The beautiful lake front walk along the promenade will remain one of your best memories as you walk along old colourful buildings and streetside restaurants.
The lively old town is where you will find little antique shops, boutiques and even stalls selling trinkets. Spring and autumn are great seasons to visit Ascona but summertime is when the jazz and film festivals run, making it a very interesting time to be there, especially if you’re a jazz music fan or a film buff.
5. The Village of Morcote: A quiet little village that sits on Lake Lugano, Morcote was voted the prettiest Swiss village in 2016. Narrow meandering streets, little balconies lining the tiny houses and a church at the top of the village overlooking the lake, make Morcote quite appealing. Cafes showcasing local cakes and tiramisu desserts line the promenade along the lakeside. You can reach Morcote by boat or by road from Lugano.
6. The views from Monte Brè: If you’re looking for some incredible views over Lake Lugano, take the charming funicular up Monte Brè:. Enjoy a lunch on the outdoor terrace of the restaurant at the top while admiring the views around Monte Brè:
For the more active, you can hike or trek around the trails nearby. Take the funicular back down to the town after an unforgettable time on Monte Brè.
7. Sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso, Locarno: The town of Locarno is worth visiting and especially the Franciscan church Madonna del Sasso. Sitting on a rock above the town overlooking the lake, the church is one of the gems of the Ticino region. The church itself if beautiful and the breathtaking views make this vantage point a must-visit.
How to get there:
Flights to Zurich with Turkish Airlines or Emirates. Use the Swiss Travel Pass and travel by train from Zurich to Lugano (Bellinzona).
Or fly to Lugano via Zurich with Swiss.
Where to stay: Recommended hotels
- Lugano: Villa Principe Leopoldo
- Locarno: Hotel Belvedere Locarno
- Ascona: Garni la Meridiana Hotel
For more information, please do visit www.beyondavisit.com or on Insta @Beyondavisit