Locarno Tourist Attractions
The old Ticenese town of Locarno is magnificently situated at the north end of Lake Maggiore, with country villas and gardens rising up the hillsides; the newer parts of the town are laid out in a regular pattern on the flat ground of the swiftly flowing River Maggia. With its mild climate, in which figs, olives and pomegranates flourish and in August myrtles blossom, Locarno is particularly popular in spring and autumn.
Locarno boat services on Lake Maggiore are available.Motor ships (in summer also hydrofoils) to the islands and places on the lake (departure from Lungolago G. Motta).
Locarno's main square is the broad Piazza Grande, which extends westwards from the landing-stage for some 400 m/1,312ft, with arcades containing shops on its north side.
Public Gardens (Kursaal)
Along the south side of Locarno's Piazza Grande are the Giardini Pubblici (Public Gardens) and the Kursaal (restaurant). In Via della Pace, which runs south through the gardens to a fountain, is the Pretorio (Law Court) or Palazzo della Conferenza, in which the Locarno Pact was signed in 1925.
Castle (Civic Museum)
An archaeological museum featuring articles from the Bronze to middle ages is housed in this medieval palace.
San Francesco Church
To the southwest of Locarno's Castello, on higher ground, is the conventual church of San Francesco, a basilica (1528-72) with massive granite columns and wall-paintings, now serving the German-speaking Catholics of the town.
To the north of Locarno's Castello is the 17th C. church of Sant'Antonio which contains painting with perspective effect by G. A. F. Orelli.
Santa Maria in Selva Church
West of Locarno's Sant'Antonio Church are the cemetery and the former church of S. Maria in Selva and the tomb of Hans Arp (1887-1966), with sculpture.
Santa Maria dell' Assunta Church
To the east of Locarno's Sant'Antonio church is the small but fine Baroque church of Santa Maria dell'Assunta, also known as Chiesa Nuova (17th C.). Its facade is dominated by a large statue of St Christopher; the interior contains beautiful stucco work.
A beautiful lakeside promenade, the Lungolago Guiseppe Motta, skirts Locarno's bay. To the south this leads to the Lido (swimming pool, camping site), the Parco della Pace and the Trade Fair grounds on the Maggia delta. To the east is Rivapiana in the district of Minusio.
Muralto (San Vittore Church)
In the Muralto district to the east of Locarno's station stands the parish church of San Vittore, originally Romanesque (12th C.) but much altered in later centuries (campanile, completed only in 1932; fine Romanesque crypt).
Munusio (San Qurico Church)
Northeast of Muralto is the outer district of Minusio, with the interesting old church of San Qurico. The bell tower (13th/14th C.) is a former watch tower.On the lakeside is the imposing 16th C. Cà di Ferro, once a barracks occupied by mercenaries in the employ of the Governor Pietro à Pro. In the cemetery (northeast entrance in the wall on the right) is the grave of the German poet Stefan George (1868-1933).
Orselina - Padre House Museum
The pilgrimage church of the Madonna del Sasso, with a Capuchin friary on a wooded crag above Locarno (355 m/1,165ft) can be reached by funicular from Via Ramogna, between the station and the Piazza Grande, 825 m/2,707ft in six minutes; on foot, by a path with Stations of the Cross, in 30-45minutes; or by road from Sant'Antonio via Monti or from Muralto via Orselina, 3.5km/2mi. The church, founded in 1480, was rebuilt in 1616 and overloaded with decoration in the 19th C. (restored in 20th C.). To the right of the entrance is a major work by Bramantino, the "Flight into Egypt" (1536), and in the second side chapel an "Entombment" by A. Ciseri (c. 1865). The notable collection of ecclesiastical art in the monastery museum includes valuable manuscripts.From the terrace there are superb views over Locarno and Lake Maggiore. On the hillside to the west and east of the Madonna del Sasso, commanding extensive views, are the residential suburbs of Monti (Monti della Trinità, 404 m/1,326ft) and Orselina (456 m/1,496ft).
Address: Santuario Madonna del Sasso, via Santuario 2, CH-6644 Orselina, Switzerland
Opening hours: Apr 15 to Oct 15: 10am-12pm, 2pm-5pm
Always opened on: Easter - Christian
Entrance fee in CHF: Adult CHF2.00
Useful tips: Season officially opens at Easter.
Transit: From Locarno by funicular leaving from the station on Via Ramogna.
Map of Locarno Attractions