Travel In Italy
Locarno: An Italian Paradise of Mountains and Culture
Known for its sunny climate and beautiful scenery, Locarno is a resort town located at the foot of the Alps on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore, and an Italian paradise of mountains, movies and culture. Every Locarno view will take your breath away as you soak in the Swiss mountains, beautiful skies, and light, and any visit to northern Italian/Swiss border is a distinct experience you can only capture there.
But Locarno is most unique in that it’s an Italian speaking village, near the gorgeous Lake Como region, but it is not in Italy! It lies across the border in Switzerland. Lake Maggiore crosses both countries.
In addition to the views, there is plenty of beauty, great food, Italian culture, and recreation for everyone to enjoy. Although the language spoken in Locarno is Italian, but cities speak German, English, and French.
To fully experience the magic of Locarno it’s best to visit in the spring or summer when the weather is prime and there is plenty to do. Locarno is very much a seasonal tourist town and many places close in the off-season.
English is rarely spoken in Locarno and the locals love it when travelers from English-speaking countries speak Italian. Don’t stress, prepare yourself by learning some basic Italian phrases. Download a phrase app or print out a few helpful phrases you can find online, to carry around with you.
A few helpful phrases for your trip to Locarno may include:
- Il menu, per favore, which translates to, “May I see the menu, please?
- Grazie, which translates to “Thank you.” Insider tip: pronouce the i and e… don’t be a Jersey Italian, “Grah-zee.” Graz-zi-eh” is the correct way to say it!
- Buona sera translates to “Good Afternoon” or “good evening,” or loosely “good to see you..”
- Bene, Grazie, which translates to “Good, Thank you.”
If you like movies, even just a little, you’ll love visiting Locarno in mid-late August, while the Locarno Film Festival takes place. Every year thousands of people attend, with many more expected this year, the 75th year the international festival has been held. Locarno is known for the Piazza Grande, which hosts the biggest outdoor movie screen in Europe. Many of the festival’s films are shown on this screen or in one of the many indoor theaters. The Piazza Grande is an outdoor screen, and sometimes inclement weather, and a lot of times, rain, will cause delays. Part of the fun is crowding under a nearby pavilion waiting for the rain to pass and the movie to begin.
To visit the many art museums and cultural institutions in Locarno, consider getting The Ascona-Locarno Cultural Pass. This pass allows reduced admission of 20% after your first full-priced museum ticket, so if you plan on visiting more than one museum, it’s worth doing, and you can obtain the pass at whatever museum you want to visit first.
Art Museums and Cultural Institutions that you can visit include:
- Ghisla Art Collection
- Museo Casa Rusca
- Museo Castello
- Museo Casorella
- Musei comunali di Ascona
- Casa Anatta Monte Verità Ascona
With all their is to do in Locarno, you’re sure to work up an appetite. Not to worry, you will have plenty of options that will wake up your taste buds. In addition to the fine dining, Locarno has many traditional grotto-style restaurants which serve local cuisines and wines in the open air and are often built next to or on the side of a mountain to keep the food and the guests pleasant and cool. A local favorite to enjoy the traditional Grotto experience is the Al Grot Cafe, which serves Ticinese food and is about 20 minutes outside the Locarno city limits along the refreshing Navegna river.
You may be wondering how you will get around this beautiful region; lucky for you; there are plenty of public transit options. The buses and trains are reliable and run on a schedule and can get you to the film festival, a grotto, or one of the many museums. Of course, you can rent a car but make sure you know how to drive a stick shift, and automatics are not easy to come by!