Locarno – A Pilgrimage Town with a Rich History

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This southern Swiss city seems almost Mediterranean, with palm trees and many days of sunshine throughout the year. Locarno is known for hosting the annual Locarno International Film Festival and for the Locarno Treaties, negotiated in 1925. It has a long history of settlement, with archaeological evidence dating from about 14th century BCE discovered in the area. The city became a royal court in the late 800s, and itwas home to several castles starting in the early middle Ages. Visconti Castle was first mentioned in 1210 and destroyed in 1531, leaving only a central core of the building complex. It also has a church that was established after the Virgin Mary appeared, which still draws many pilgrims to the town.

Location: Between Lake Maggiore and the Swiss Alps

On the northern end of Lake Maggiore lies Locarno, near the city of Ascona at the foot of the Alps. Much of the area is used for agricultural purposes, and there is a large forest in the town. It is easy to get to it by auto, taking the A13. There is also regular train service from many cities in Switzerland and Italy.

Culture: A Castle Built by Da Vinci

One of the main sites in town is the castle, which now houses the City and Archaeological Museum. Leonardo da Vinci may have designed the defensive bastion of the castle. There are nine Swiss heritage sites in the city, three of which are churches. One important church is Madonna del Sasso, which not only draws pilgrims due to an appearance of the Virgin Mary, it also offers amazing views of the lake, the mountains, and the city. There is also a scale model of the Solar System, the Astrovia Locarno.

Activities: Plenty of Sunshine for Enjoying the Natural Attractions

There is more than 2,300 hours of sunshine every year, which provides opportunities to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the town, in addition to the lake and the nearby Alps. The Cardada-Cimetta is the closest mountain, and it has a cable car that takes visitors up for hiking in the summer and skiing and sledging in the winter. The lake provides the perfect setting for water sports, especially boating out to the Brissago Islands.