Locarno travel guide
Nestling at the foot of the Alps, on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore, is Locarno, whose name means 'lion's flesh' and our Locarno travel guide aims to 'flesh out' all the travel and tourism information you could want if you are planning a visit to this idyllic Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. It is perhaps best known to most people as the venue for the international film festival which takes over the town for eleven days every year.
Its location on the southern tip of Switzerland makes it one of the warmest places in the country and its palm trees and lemon groves give it a Mediterranean feel. The countryside is dotted with picturesque villages whose white stone houses and spindly church spires bask in the sunshine under clear, sapphire skies. A scenic railway weaves through the countryside and the unspoilt valleys and mountains clad in forests of chestnuts, offer tempting treks into a bosky, undiscovered utopia.
High on a hilltop, affording spectacular views of the whole area, is the Church of Madonna de Sasso where the Virgin Mary was believed to have appeared there in 1480 and this is now a popular pilgrimage for the devout. A cable car and chairlift will take you up to the dizzying heights of Cardada-Cimetta to enjoy the panoramic delights or get physical with hang gliding, paragliding, skiing or sledging. For the truly intrepid, you might want to try a bungee jump from the Verzasca Dam, seen in the opening minutes of the James Bond film 'GoldenEye'. Reputed to be one of the highest bungee jump locations in the world at 220 m, this is definitely not for the faint-hearted!
The picturesque Old Town with its mediaeval buildings is a joy to wander through at leisure and the Piazza Grande is the place to sit and enjoy an unhurried cup of coffee as you watch the world go by. A visit to the 12th century Castello Visconteo, once the residence of the dukes of Milan, cannot be ignored. A good deal of the original mediaeval building has been preserved and makes fascinating viewing. The castle also houses an archaeological museum where Roman relics are stored and exhibited.
All around Lake Maggiore are water-based activities and sports and the Lido Locarno, a new leisure complex with hot springs, water slides and everything you would expect in a cutting edge aqua park. All this against a backdrop of idyllic, alpine scenery: what more could you ask for in a holiday destination?