Come and discover amazing Ticino with me

August 16, 2021, 13 Comments

Italian energy and Swiss efficiency. That’s how Ticino is usually described and it’s (almost) true. I’ll come to the ‘almost’ in a minute but first this: I love Ticino – the thrill of the journey to get there, the smell of camellias, the lakes, the towns, all of it. So I’m writing a series of articles about the Italian-speaking canton starting today…

The canton south of the Alps feels like Italy, with its hectic traffic, lakes-and-mountains scenery and polenta with everything. And it’s certainly Swiss, with a statue of William Tell in Lugano and waiters who speak German. Then again, the trains are nearly always late and bus drivers hop out for a quick espresso at the traffic lights. Almost Swiss, but not quite.

Ticino is actually the fifth largest canton in terms of area but much of it is wild mountains beyond the Gotthard Pass. The bits that most people visit are further south, between the cantonal capital of Bellinzona and Chiasso on the border, where life revolves around two lakes and their two cities, Lugano and Locarno. And I’m often asked what’s the difference.

Lugano is the largest city in Ticino but still manages to feel manageable. The compact old town with cobbled squares and arcaded shops is lovely to wander round, but even better is taking a boat out on the lake, gelato in hand enjoying the views of blue water and conical hills. Those hills are great for day trips: click here for more on that.

Locarno is much smaller and quieter, the perfect place to relax at the top end of Lago Maggiore. Its focal point is the Piazza Grande, a square straight out of Italy, but its prime sight is the beautiful Madonna del Sasso church high above the centre. It’s quite a hike up there or this is still Switzerland so of course there’s also a funicular to take you up.

Both cities are worth visiting and either makes a good base for exploring. Lugano has slightly more to offer but Locarno compensates with its sunshine and serenity.

13 Comments on "Come and discover amazing Ticino with me"

  1. Ma Tiffany Orapa Monday August 16th, 2021 at 02:33 PM · Reply

    Beautiful Ticino

  2. Anne-Marie Sharma Monday August 16th, 2021 at 03:00 PM · Reply

    Would love to visit Locarno. Fab prize. Lovely way to spend with the family, gelato in hand crusing along the lake.

  3. Marika Monday August 16th, 2021 at 03:48 PM · Reply

    Lugano best memories had lots of fun

  4. Federico Monday August 16th, 2021 at 07:10 PM · Reply

    I like Locarno, it’s small but it’s nice and clean even if parking it’s not always easy. You must be there during the wonderful summer film and jazz festivals.
    Lugano it’s unique and you have plenty of things to do and see (one day it’s not enough).
    Last week I visited Lugano with my family, we left the car in a parking close to Parco Ciani, we walked into the park for half an hour to breath some fresh air and see some nice views of the town, we continue towards the center where we had our breakfast with croissant and cappuccino, then we bought some food and went to Brè village where we left our car, visited the nice village and took a 30 minutes walk into the wood to reach Monte Brè summit where you have a breath taking view over Lugano lake, the city and the surrounding mountains. We had our sandwiches in one of the many tables placed under the trees, rested a little bit in the grass and then walked back to Brè village. What a perfect day everybody enjoyed a lot!

  5. Martin Tuesday August 17th, 2021 at 10:48 AM · Reply

    Grazie mille

  6. Nicolas Steinmann Tuesday August 17th, 2021 at 11:55 AM · Reply

    I confirme: Ticino is in a way a mix of Life style of Switzerland and Italy. But say never to the people such a comparison: they are proud of their culture and they’re not a mixed product of two cultures. What’s amazing is the multiple facets of regions: Leventina, Sopraceneri, Sottoceneri, Mendrisiotto, Locarnese and so on. A very nice melting pot of panoramas and traditions. I love this region and their people!

  7. Andrea Raschle Tuesday August 17th, 2021 at 03:50 PM · Reply

    Locarno may be smaller and less cosmopolitan than Lugano, but don’t forget to mention events like the annual international film festival or Moon and Stars, bringing stars and VIPs to the most beautiful open air cinema or concert stage in Switzerland. The Piazza Grande! Amazing atmosphere!

    And great price, by the way… Loads of shops at Fox Town!

  8. Tim Dawson-Townsend Saturday August 21st, 2021 at 10:19 AM · Reply

    I like Locarno, but I really need to spend more time in Lugano, too!

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