Castles, sanctuary and relaxing on the lake: two days in the Locarno area.

title2days1-01We recently had relatives from Canada staying with us for two days, they wanted to see as much as possible of our area in a short time and of course they asked me for help. So on today’s blog you will discover what I told them to do, and if you have only two days to spend in our beautiful area this is what you could do too.
Day 1: in Locarno take the funicular and go up to Orselina to visit the Madonna del Sasso sanctuary. The church is quite impressive itself, but what’s really breathtaking is the view you have over the city and its surroundings.
2days20After the visit walk down along the Via Crucis past twelve little chapels and get into the old town of Locarno. There you may want to visit to the S. Antonio church and its square. Chiesa Nuova and S. Francesco are two other beautiful churches in the old town that are worth visiting. Walk around the cobbled streets to discover some nice shops and good restaurants.
2days17 2days16Go down to the castle and if you have some spare time visit its museum to learn more about the town’s history.
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You can have lunch in one of the old town’s restaurants. Then visit Piazza Grande, maybe spend some time shopping under the arcades, and later walk to the port nearby to board a ship to Ascona. If you’re on a budget take the bus, but that’s only half as fun.
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In Ascona simply stroll around the old area of the village, maybe walk up to S. Michele church for another beautiful view of the landscape, and then stop for an ice cream or an aperitif in one of the cafes on the lake promenade and relax. Have dinner in one of Ascona’s excellent restaurants or in one of its pizzerias.
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Day 2: take the train to Bellinzona, Ticino’s capital city. Bellinzona is another nice town to discover on foot, you may want to visit the Collegiata SS. Pietro e Stefano, the town hall and stroll through the narrow lanes of the old town.
But the main reason you’re in Bellinzona are the three medieval castles that are part of the Unesco World Heritage. From the centre you can take an elevator that will get you to the biggest of the castles, aptly called Castelgrande. Take your time to visit it, walk the walls, visit the museum if you want, and then walk down into the centre.
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From the Collegiata you can then walk up to the other two castles, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro. Have lunch and then take that train again. If you’re not too tired I suggest getting off in Tenero and walk to Locarno along the ‘stradina rossa’, that’s what we call the red pedestrian street that goes from Mappo to Muralto all along the lake. It’s a wonderful walk, and there are a few restaurants along the way if you feel thirsty or need a rest.
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For dinner I suggest going to a grotto, a typical Ticinese restaurant to have some local food.

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