Four Lakeside Towns in
Independent Switzerland touring of the Italian-Swiss Region from your vacation apartment in:
or its satellite towns:
CITY & TOWN
Independent Switzerland touring of SURPRISING ITALIAN SWITZERLAND:
Ticino: Explore Switzerland & Northern Italy. Discover the Best of 2 Cultures Combined in this Stunning Scenic Southern Swiss Region, both Alpine & Mediterranean.
TICINO — “Italian Switzerland“ — Worlds collide in Ticino, Switzerland’s surprising Italian region on the south side of the Alps.
Here, the mountains rise from the plains of Italy, climbing more than 10,000 feet from just 200 meters above sea level at Lake Maggiore — Switzerland’s lowest point — to the highest peaks of Italian Switzerland.
Mediterranean weather systems hit this alpine wall separating northern Europe from the south. From the high Lepontine Alps in the north of Ticino, tributary valleys carry glacier meltwater from the rugged, alpine wilderness south to the palm-lined shores of Maggiore.
THE RUGGED RIVER VALLEYS — The scenery changes quickly along the rushing, descending Ticinese rivers, from the lonely starkness of the highest alpine pinnacles to the subsistence, small-plot farms and the sometimes electrified rustic, stone villages maintaining cultural toeholds in the narrow, plunging valleys, to the fertile, gentle, modern la dolce vita of the deltas along the lake.
A Small City & its Neighboring Towns in Central Ticino Are Perfect Bases for Independent touring of Italian Switzerland.
Ascona’s Borgo old town with its attractive harborside promenade.
LOCARNO & ITS SATELLITES — It is here in the semi-urban lowlands of central Ticino where we have our delightful guest apartments.
Some are found in the Old Town and New Town of lakeside Locarno — a stylish, historic, small city with a delightfully preserved medieval core.
Others are located in central, convenient settings in three neighboring satellite towns along the lake: Minusio, Muralto, and jet-set Ascona.
HOME AT FIRST APARTMENTS IN LOCARNO’S CITTÁ VECCHIA OLD CITY.
THE APARTMENTS — Our comfortable, quality Ticino apartments are all unique, with capacities sleeping up to 6 persons.
All share close proximity — easy walking distance — to stores, shops, the lake shore, and especially to public transport: the trains, buses, and boats of the coordinated Ticino transport network.
All Home At First Ticino apartments have English-speaking hosts either on-site or available nearby for questions, information, recommendations, and help should a problem or emergency arise.
TILO REGIONAL TRAIN departing the Locarno area transportation center in Muralto.
EXPLORING TICINO & BEYOND — The best way to explore Switzerland’s surprising Italian section is via Ticino’s comprehensive public transport network. The convenience of exploring Ticino — and independent Switzerland touring beyond Ticino and into adjoining parts of Switzerland and Italy — by train, boat, and bus — eliminates fighting traffic congestion, finding parking, negotiating treacherous alpine roads, and the risks of crossing international borders with rental cars.
Activities and Attractions in Italian Switzerland.
Home At First guests in Italian Switzerland receive the exclusive Ticino edition of our “New Swiss Dream Book” activity guide, full of suggestions for visitor attractions and and activities along with recommended day trips and other activities, including our Hiking & Biking Guide.
Here is a brief sampling of the entries listed in our comprehensive guidebook:
Bellinzona – Castello Montebello VIEWED from Castello Grande.
Ticino’s landscape varies from high alpine to sub-tropical. There are two large lakes along the border with Italy: Maggiore and Lugano.
There are 3 small cities with unique characters: Locarno, Bellinzona, & Lugano. Vineyards produce fine wines, especially Merlot del Ticino.
Everywhere are grottos — rustic tavern-cafés serving local wine, cheese, bread, and meats in informal, traditional settings.
There are 10,000′ high mountains to climb, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails of all levels of challenge.
• Visconteo Castle in Locarno: the 13th century, the medieval castle at the foot of Locarno’s Old City features a distinctive half-round battlement that may have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
• Bellinzona’s 3 Castles: built to defend the international trade route across the Gotthard Pass — a World Heritage Site. Historic Bellinzona is the cantonal capital of Ticino. Its Saturday morning old-city outdoor market is a colorful, centuries-old tradition.
• The Valleys: bus & train trips into upper Ticino’s ruggedly scenic river valleys that feature rustic stone villages with grottos serving local cheese, salami, and wine. The villages are connected by riverside walking paths through fabulous scenery.
• Lugano: southernmost city of Switzerland, fashionable, walkable, & very shoppable. Set on Lake Lugano between 2 “Sugar Loaf” like peaks with birds-eye views over the city, the lake, and into Italy.
• Neighboring Italy: boat, bus & train trips from Locarno into Italy: the Wednesday open-air market at Luino on Lake Maggiore; Stresa resort town & the Borromean Isles at Maggiore’s western end; Milan, Italy’s great northern city, under 2.5 hours by train.
Independent Switzerland touring from your apartment home offers many possible activities: touring near & far, swimming, hiking, biking, cruising, golf, prowling museums, attending concerts and film festivals, visiting vineyards & wineries, buying cheese at the farm, seeing chocolate made at the factory, and shopping at open-air markets.
View from Cimetta high above Locarno.
• Cablecar up Locarno’s own mountain: climb from central Locarno to Orselina by funicular, on to Cardada by gondola, and further by chairlift to the mountaintop: Cimetta (5,404′). Restaurants, viewing, & walking available at each station stop.
• Ride the Swiss Postal Bus: take dramatic day trips up alpine valleys to rustic, remote villages: Sonogno, Fusio, San Carlo, and Bosco Gurin.
• Smooth Swiss Sailing: take a short Lake Maggiore cruise to the garden island Brissago, or a longer cruise on Lake Lugano to the award-winning villages of Morcote and Gandria.
• Shop at Authentic Outdoor Markets in Locarno, Ascona, & Bellinzona, and in nearby Italian towns of Luino and Canobbio. Clothing, art, jewelry, regional foods, wines, leather goods, antiques, crafts.
• Swiss Chocolate! Learn about, sample, and buy Swiss chocolate at the small factory near Lake Lugano.
• Public Transportation High Point in Northern Ticino: Bus to San Carlo, then large cablecar up to Robiei (6,204′). Restaurant and hiking options at the top in alpine moonscape.
• Public Transportation High Point in Southern Ticino: Boat or rail to Capolago then narrow gauge train steeply up to mile-high Monte Generoso. Restaurant and hiking options at the top.
• Cycle downhill .6mi drop in 2 hours. Rail north to Airolo (3,855′) and bike south down to Biasca or further to Bellinzona (742′).
• A Super Scenic Circle Trip Day to Italy! Take the fast boat on Lake Maggiore to Stresa, then return by slow express train across the Centovalli Railway.
• Visit Vineyards & Wineries in Bellinzona, Biasca, and Mendrisio. Closest winery tour with sales & samples: Tenero 10 minutes from Locarno.
• Wine & Dine: discover & enjoy fine restaurants in your neighborhood and throughout Ticino.
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