Why ‘Little Italy’ in Switzerland is a must-have city for your travel list

Cuckoo clocks, minute clocks, and fondue are just some of the things you might associate with Switzerland. Lizards, pizza and neoclassical buildings not so much.

However, the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino in the south of the country, known for its mild climate and semi-tropical gardens, as well as stunning Alpine landscapes, has all of these things.

Just over an hour’s drive from Milan or a panoramic train and ferry ride south from Lucerne, Ticino is a little Italy too small for Switzerland.

Here are some of the best sites to visit when you are there.

unabashedly italian region

Located on the northern shores of glacial lake Lugano, Lugano is unabashedly Italian, with a culture close by related to the Italian region of Lombardy.

The historic city of 70,000 inhabitants, an important banking center, is full of Italian buildings, Mediterranean style Beautiful squares and gardens, such as Parco Ciani, which is right next to the lake and has a jetty and library, as well as plants and trees from around the world.

It is all overlooked by the towering mountains of Monte Prix and San Salvatore. Sit back and watch the world go by for a cappuccino at Vanini Dolce e Caffè in Piazza Riforma. Or try a slice of “bread bun,” a local specialty made with amaretto, grappa and stale bread (it’s much tastier than it looks) from Gabbani salumeria on Via Pessina.

Morcote is the most beautiful village in Ticino

An hour’s ferry ride from Lugano and a 20-minute drive from the Italian border, Morcote is one of Ticino’s prettiest villages, a picturesque lakeside area surrounded by multimillion-dollar villas that cling to the lower slopes of Monte Arpostura.

Ristorante della Torre has created the perfect lunch spot with a covered outdoor terrace overhanging the lake and Serves gourmet pizza And other Italian food.

Work the calories off as you climb 402 steps to Chiesa Santa Maria del Sasso, a 15th-century church with frescoes and A view to die for.

In Parco Shearer, a tiered Italian garden named after its late founder and passionate gardener Arthur Shearer, young lizards dart among cypress and eucalyptus trees.

While there were miniature copies of the Trevi Fountain Rome The Arabian Palace adds a note of fun.

If you’re looking for a romantic wedding location – and you can’t do better than that – you can rent out the gardens for your big day.

Make a splash in Locarno

Beautiful Locarno, a resort town located on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore At the base of the AlpsIt is famous for having the sunniest climate in Switzerland.

It also hosts an annual film festival (this year is its 75th anniversary) in Piazza Grande. Which attracts first-class Hollywood listeners There are various collections of fine art in the magnificent palace hidden in the hillsides.

To unwind after a day of sightseeing, take a dip in Termali Salini & Spa, a public saltwater pool and spa overlooking the lake and mountains. When the mercury rises in summer, unwind at Lido Locarno – it has an Olympic-size outdoor pool, plus thermal pools, waterslides, slides and wave effects, and it’s a fun day out for adults and kids.

For a place to stay, the Belvedere Hotel has 90 renovated rooms, landscaped tropical gardens, and a funicular station just outside the grounds. Opened in the late 19th century, it is located on a hillside with panoramic views of the lake and Locarno itself. Double room with balcony with lake view and buffet breakfast starts from €282.

Bellinzona is the picturesque capital of Ticino

Dominated by the Tre Castelli, three 15th century castles built by the Dukes of Milan and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bellinzona is the capital of Ticino, one of the 26 cantons or regions of Switzerland.

Visit the lively weekly market (held on Saturday mornings), picturesque squares, and a wide choice of independent boutiques and cafés. The town is also one of the main stops on the Gotthard Panorama Express, a four-hour train and boat trip through fantastical Alpine scenery to Lucerne in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, 140 kilometers to the north.

On the way, you will pass the chapel of the Swiss folk hero William Tell and the meadow of Rötli, where Switzerland was founded in 1291. The cost of a second-class ticket is 51.50 euros.

Ascona is made for Passigiata

With its mild climate and a traffic-free lakefront promenade dotted with cafés and restaurants, Ascona on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore was created for the passeggiata, a pleasant evening stroll beloved by many Italians.

The Latin vibe continues in Borgo, the old town, where the narrow, winding streets have even more interesting places to eat, and the 16th-century bell tower of San Pietro e Paolo is a highlight.

In the nearby Maggiatal and Centovalli valleys, there are plenty of walking and cycling trails, and on the edge of town is an 18-hole golf course.

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