Thursday, April 16, 2009

Locarno over Easter Break

When I was telling the folks at work about my Easter break plans, one bloke mentioned that when he goes to Ticino he goes to Locarno, and only Locarno... I recalled visiting Locarno for a few hours back in 1998, and I recalled liking it - something about a church and the lake, and a boat ride to Isola Bella. And I thought - yeah, we will take a little side trip to Locarno!

Locarno is just a stone's throw from Bellinzona - and by that I mean we took a train there directly, only about 20-25 minutes away. We went there on Saturday for the morning and afternoon before heading down to Como, Italy in the evening... I mean, we did all three castles on Friday, so what did we have to lose!

Again... Locarno was pretty empty. Where are all the tourists?

Locarno is a promenade place. So the first thing we did was promenade of course, along the boardwalk by the Lago Maggiore, enjoying the mountains in the distance and the wide expanse of water out to the south. I had planned to take Jace to the Isola Bella but we missed the boat - literally. Next time...

After walking the promenade, we went into town. Locarno is quaint and easily walkable in about an hour. The Piazza Grande is the main place to be, and you get there by walking west through the town, by all the shops. We had lunch at one of the pizzerias here.

After lunch, we picked up this wicked Easter dessert cake, and then we took the Funicular or Locarno FLMS up the hill to see the Madonna del Sasso. The ride is about 8 minutes and it departs every 15 minutes starting on the hour.

The view from the top of the funicular is amazing. I can imagine on a clear day it would be just gorgeous. After walking around the church we decided to take the (steep stone, but nevertheless manageable) path back down to Locarno, passing these shrines that line the ravine.
I love this shot below with the church and the funicular in frame.
Check out that view... amazing. These shots were taken at the church, in one of the corridors.

Here are some lovely details around the church.

After we made it back down to the town, the last place we visited was a 12th century castle called Castello Visconteo. We just walked around and took it all in with the rest of the town, then went back to Bellinzona on the train.

In case I missed something, here is a list from Suzer as well (check out her blog, Locarno Sweet Locarno), regarding her highlights as a local expat in Locarno:
  • Be sure to take the walking path to Minusio. It begins at the end of the waterfront park (to the left when coming from the station). (I should have done this! )

  • There is also a cool castle that is speculated to be designed by Di Vinci, and a funicular (close to the station also) that will take you to the mountain top for great views. (Did it!)

  • My major recommondation is to have coffee at one of the shops on Piazza Grande at dusk, there seems to be something special in the air then. (Pizza count? :) Oh, and everyone pretty much knows German here, so don't feel like you have to speak Italian. If you see a Grotti , try it....I haven't yet, but they are supposed to be amazing! (Next time!)

  • Oh and also, the "LungoLago" restuarant is open 24/7....very helpful!
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1 comment:

The Antiques Diva™ said...

You've completely inspired me... I know where I'll be taking my next vacation!! Well, after Paris (next week) and Stuttgart (in May) and Florence (in June)... Hmmm, I'm beginning to think I have a "problem". Can one be addicted to travel?


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