We were cracking our heads to figure out what to do and where to go over Easter this year. We weren’t as quick as usual with booking flights and going anywhere within Europe seemed too much to pay for a weekend. As I’ve been wanting to visit Ascona and see Lago Maggiore for the longest time, we decided to go down to Ticino instead. What a fantastic 4 days we had in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland.
We started our morning with a scenic train ride through the Gotthard Tunnel, the world’s longest at 57km to Bellinzona. We did a quick stop to this UNESCO town where we had cake and coffee with the view of one of the 3 majestic castles towering over us.
We then took a bus in hopes of seeing the famous Tibetan suspension bridge but the queue for the cable car up was too long and we were told it would be another 45 minutes hike from there. It was impossible with our bags, two babies and a stroller.
So we took a bus to Locarno where we were based for the next 3 nights.
Our Airbnb apartment was in a great location and we had the view of the church tower bell from our kitchen.
In the afternoons we chilled on the balcony. It felt very… Italian… very village-like…
That afternoon we took a bus to Ascona where I saw possibly the playground with one of the most incredible views on this planet. Just look at how the sunshine hits the slopes of the mountains.
From their website:
“The Lago Maggiore Express offers you an unforgettable journey by train and ship. A day of contrasts awaits you: you will travel in Ticino, the southern part of Switzerland and in Italy. You will navigate accross the Lago Maggiore visiting the Islands, the castles. With the scenic Centovalli and Val Vigezzo railway you will cross one of the wildest and most romantic stretches of land in this area.”
We took the train to Domodossola which seemed like a dead town more than anything else. The train ride which promised a lot unfortunately didn’t deliver much.
From there, we took another train to Stresa which is one of the most beautiful places I have been to. Just look at the view we had during lunch!
We came across this funky chimney while walking in Stresa from the train station to the lake.
After lunch and the mandatory gelato when in Italy, we took the boat all the way back to Locarno – it took a long time (almost 4 hours) with many stops. We only found out later that there was a speed boat but you’d have to pay extra and have advanced reservations for that.
It was great to see Ascona once more but from the water this time.
The next day we decided to take the boat again to Cannobio which was the first stop by boat in Italy. We enjoyed splendid weather and views of the Alps and the lake.
Cannobio was a cute little town with the best Sunday market flooded with Swiss German tourists in search of the sun.
The highlight of course was the two ice cream stops we had there. Gelato is a must when in Italy!
As you can see below, we have two babies who are ice cream monsters.
Locarno itself is another beautiful city on the lake. We had dinner at one of the restaurants on the famous Piazza Grande which is famous for hosting the Locarno International Film Festival.
I cannot wait to come back to this region. There was more I wanted to see and do but we just didn’t have enough time. In the future, I would love to do the 007 bungee jump as featured in the James Bond movie Goldeneye at the Verzasca Dam as well as the famous bridge Ponte dei Salti. I would also go back to Stresa so I can visit Isola Bella, one of the Borromean Islands we passed on the boat trip.