Locarno – Small Town Wonder

locarna-church People love to visit this charming and picturesque Swiss town, even in winter, because of its wonderful temperate climate like some of those attractive places in southern Europe. Locarno looks stunningly beautiful with Lake Maggoire next door and wooded mountains with villages and churches as extended neighborhood.

Locarno is about an hour and a half’s drive from the nearest international airport in Milan. Another option is to land at Zurich airport and then take a train from there.

Everybody speaks Italian in Locarno. You won’t get stuck if you know German or English as most shopkeepers, waiters, bus and cab drivers can communicate in these languages.

Hordes of visitors invade Locarno in August during the 10-day International Film Festival. But tourists throng this jewel of a place all the time. There is a saying that there are more hotel rooms in Locarno than local inhabitants. What do all these tourists do when there is no temptation of goggling at glamorous film stars? Plenty, as will be evident from a tour of the town and its neighborhood.

Orselina is the place where you should first go to get an idea about the locality. It is up in the hilly area. The famous church of Madonna del Sasso is situated here. From this height you will get a panoramic view of the town, the lake and the mountains. You can go there by road or by a cable railway departing from Locarno train station.

The Piazza Grande is a busy square lined with shopping arcades, fashionable boutiques, bars and restaurants. There are many alleys and narrow streets at the end of the Piazza where some huge and elegant mansions still display their aristocratic past glory.

The winding narrow alleys of the Old Town, known locally as Citta Vecchia, like narrow alleys elsewhere in the world, bustle with activities. Sip a glass of wine in a road-side bar and enjoy watching the scene around you.

Cruise on the Lake Maggoire and see the Italian coast across the water and, as the distance isn’t great, watch small villages there.

Bars, restaurants, cafes are practically everywhere in Locarno, especially in the Piazza Grande. The food is predominantly Italian with varieties of delicacies in fish, available plenty in the lake. You may find it difficult to get a cup of simple tea in a restaurant but you can always get wine and chilled beer.

Nobel Laureate Ernst Hemingway immortalized Locarno in his novel A Farewell to Arms. This Locarno will always warmly welcome you.