That would translate as aperitif in English, but I think the two words don’t mean exactly the same thing. Yes, it’s about meeting friends for a drink before dinner, but an aperitivo is so much more than that! Here in Ticino we love having an aperitivo, not only on Saturday, but every day of the week. We meet after work for a quick Spritz, a Hugo or even a beer, we chat, gossip, let off steam and do some people watching. And then there’s the food, worst case scenario is a bowl of crisps or some peanuts, but the better places offer you so much food that you don’t need to have dinner afterwards. Here in Locarno we’re still miles away from the Italian aperitivo standards, but things are getting better and we have some bars serving decent food. Here’s a list of my personal favourites in the area, chances are I will be in one of these places very soon…
1. Caffé Festival, Viale Balli 2, Locarno
This bar is in the centre of Locarno, between Piazza Grande and the station so it’s very easy to reach. I like to have drinks on their beautiful terrace, they even give you blankets when it’s starting to get cold. On Friday night they often have local bands playing, so if you want to hear some music while sipping your drink, that’s the place to go.
2. Sport Café, Via della Posta 4, Locarno
I started going to this bar more than 20 years ago, and I still like going there. They recently changed the whole decor and it looks more modern now. It’s a good place for a rich aperitivo (they often have a food buffet) or even an after dinner cocktail. On the weekends they hold special events with DJs.
3. Gran Caffé Verbano, Piazza Grande 5, Locarno
This bar is right on the Piazza Grande in a fantastic location. The wine selection is great and on Friday and Saturday they serve special Apero-Tapas that are simply delicious, though not free. Sitting on their terrace while sipping a glass of Moscato and watching the people on the Piazza is the perfect way to relax after a hard day at work.
4. Negromante, Via Borghese 14, Locarno
This pub-like bar and restaurant is in the old town, inside one of the oldest buildings of Locarno. Their patio is very beautiful and you can sip your Hugo under some vines, which is great especially during the hot summer evenings.
5. BarTolomeo, Via Rusca 8, Locarno
Another bar in the old town of Locarno but with a very different feel to it. Again it’s best to sit outside, but the sofas inside are comfortable too. It’s a great place to try one of their coffees or a drink with syrup. Have a look at their blackboards for seasonal specialties.
6. Bar Lungolago, Via Bramantino 1, Locarno
Ok, I don’t particularly like this place, the decor is ugly and there are far too many tables stuffed in the room and on the terrace, but the aperitivo is one of the richest in the area with a big buffet of cold and warm snacks, and the cocktail selection is fantastic too.
7. Giardino Lago, Via alla Riva 83, Minusio
This place is stunning, the location is simply breathtaking and the bar/restaurant/hotel is beautiful too, even if on the more expensive side. Have your drink on the roof lounge, sitting in a comfortable sofa and enjoying the splendid view on Lago Maggiore and the Gambarogno area. Check out their website for a few fun events in the next months.
8. Marina by Eden Roc, Via Albarelle, Ascona
Another chic place, this time in Ascona. At the Marina bar you can sip your drinks while watching the boats come in. The clientele is mostly foreign, but it’s totally worth to stop there if you’re in Ascona and want to feel like you were on holiday (which you probably are ;) ).
9. Beach Lounge, Via Lido, Ascona
I think that in the last few years this place has lost some of its charm, but it’s still a pretty place to go to and have the probably best aperitivo in the neighbourhood. Sometimes you have to pay for the food, something along 10 CHF for a drink and the buffet, but in that case you don’t need to have dinner anymore as there is sooo much food, including pasta dishes and grilled meat. Other times the food is free but they still have a great buffet with cured meats, fish, cheese, breads, and much more.
10. La Fabbrica, Via Locarno 43, Losone
This place is a bit of a wild card, you never know exactly what to expect: a jazzy experimental concert, people dancing the tango, or a table tennis tournament. I’ve seen pretty much everything there :) But if you like beer that’s the place to go, Igor will be happy to recommend one of the about 100 different types of beers he has on the menu.
Ok, I’m off! Time to… you guessed it, have an aperitivo!