Guide to Ticino: discovering Italian Switzerland

We offer you the Canton Ticino guide: discovering Italian Switzerland. All the useful information.

If you are planning a trip to Switzerland, you cannot miss out on visiting the splendid Canton Ticino. Italian Switzerland, with its picturesque lakes, artistic towns and enchanting villages. A region where you can admire the beauty of nature, historical testimonies and architectural and artistic wonders.

Guide to the Canton Ticino: discovering Italian Switzerland (Lugano. Adobe Stock)
Canton Ticino is the southernmost part of Switzerland, bordering Lombardy and Piedmont, a stone’s throw from Milan. The Lake of Lugano and the towns that overlook its mirror of water can also be visited with a day trip.

Below you will find all the information you need to visit the canton of Switzerland where Italian is spoken.

First we remind you of our guide to the city of Zurich, located in the German-speaking canton of the same name,

Located in the southern Alps, Canton Ticino borders largely with Italy, with the provinces of Como and Varese, and with the Swiss cantons of Valais, Uri and Grisons. It is washed by the waters of lakes Lugano and Maggiore. The capital is Bellinzona, although the largest city is Lugano. The basin of the river Ticino, from which it takes its name, occupies an important part of the canton’s territory.

Thanks to its proximity to Italy, and for the language, is very popular with Italians. The most popular tourist destinations are the cities of Lugano and Locarno, the latter home to an important film festival in August.

Guide to Ticino: what to see

Definitely worth seeing are the lake areas, Maggiore and Lugano, which they share with Italy, and the charming lakeside towns. In Canton Ticino there are many lakes and it is crossed for its length by the basin of the river Ticino. The most important cities are Lugano, Locarno, Mendrisio and Bellinzona.

Lugano has medieval origins and is an elegant lake town with many monuments, churches and museums to see. Locarno has a medieval old town, to see here the Castello Visconteo and the Piazza Grande where in August are shown the films of the International Film Festival of Locarno. Ascona is a characteristic village on Lake Maggiore, near Locarno. Bellinzona, the capital of the canton, is famous for its castles and walls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, such as the beautiful castle of Montebello and Castelgrande, which dominates the city. To see in Bellinzona also the numerous churches.

Mendrisio, near the border with Italy, just north of Chiasso, is another center of historical and artistic value, with its palaces and numerous churches, here are also the ruins of a Roman villa with mosaics of the first and second century AD.

On the shores of Lake Lugano you should not miss a visit to the enchanting Morcote, one of the most beautiful villages in Italian Switzerland.

What to do
Lake Lugano’s waters are swimmable in summer and ideal for a boat trip. Visit the picturesque fishing villages. On Lake Maggiore, Ascona has maintained the charm of the past and is an ideal place for a romantic walk on the shores of the lake. Always on Lake Lugano, in Melide, there is Swissminiatur, a playground that reproduces the symbolic places of the state, ideal for families with children.

There is a large area covered with woods, ideal for walking. The mountains of Canton Ticino offer many opportunities for high-altitude trekking. The Maggia Valley, less than an hour’s drive from Lugano, has routes suitable for every walker and splendid views of the surrounding peaks. Alternatively, you can venture on the paths of the Verzasca Valley, among streams and forests of holm oaks.

The hills around Lake Lugano are home to Merlot vines, and in autumn there are numerous food and wine events and festivals, with tastings in crotti and wine cellars, music and folkloristic dances. Not to be missed is the Lugano Autumn Festival, with exhibitions and tastings of typical local products, from cheese to cold cuts and mushrooms. The city is a lively cultural center that often hosts important art exhibitions. To visit the beautiful parks and gardens overlooking the lake, such as Ciani Park with the famous gate of access to the lake, classic picture postcard. Lugano’s lakefront is also ideal for romantic winter walks.

In Bellinzona you can go shopping at the Saturday morning market, where you can buy fresh products, gastronomic specialties and handicrafts. The city has a long tradition of Carnival. In the surroundings of Bellinzona and in the area of Alto Ticino, many excursions are organized, on foot, by mountain bike and in Canona on the Ticino. For skiing there is the Airolo-Pesciüm ski area overlooking the Gotthard. Gambling enthusiasts can go to the casinos in Lugano, Locarno and Mendrisio.

Staying in Switzerland is quite expensive, but with some shrewdness you can find good facilities not too expensive. To spend less you can choose the pensions in the villages outside the major cities. To eat you go in restaurants, inns or crotti (caves) typical.

Practical information

Ascona, on the Swiss side of Lake Maggiore (Adobe Stock)
Below you will find some useful information for visiting the Canton Ticino: the ideal period and how to get there

When to go
You can visit the Canton of Ticino in any season, but for an easier visit and for outdoor activities it is obviously preferable the summer, from spring to autumn, although in summer it is quite hot. Winter is ideal for snow lovers, in the mountains, because in the plain snow is very rare.

How to get there
By car, Canton Ticino can be reached by taking the Milano-Laghi A9 highway to Como, continuing to the Brogeda pass, entering Chiasso. Or the freeway Milano-Laghi A8 to Varese, entering Switzerland through the Gaggiolo pass. Or through the pass of Bizzarrone, in the province of Como, taking the SP 23.
Other access routes are from Domodossola, via the SS 337, following the Piedmont and Lombardy coasts on Lake Maggiore, or from Luino the provincial road to Lavena-Ponte Tresa.

In Switzerland, a tax must be paid for the use of most national roads (freeways and semi-motorways) with motor vehicles and trailers. An entrance ticket is purchased, a prepaid sticker (“vignette”) which lasts one year and costs about 40 euros.

By train, the Canton of Ticino can be reached by the Gotthard line, which connects northern and southern Europe and passes through Chiasso. Or the Centovallina railway line from Domodossola.

By plane you can reach Lugano airport, which is connected to other Swiss and European cities.

Documents required
To enter Switzerland you need a valid identity card or passport. The country is a member of the Schengen Agreement.
There are no special restrictions on the import of legal tender in Switzerland, subject to measures to combat crime. Cash amounts in excess of EUR 10,000 must be declared to the customs authorities both on entering and leaving the country. The obligation to declare also extends to other means of payment, such as cheques and bills of exchange.
For foodstuffs and alcoholic beverages there are specific provisions, which can be consulted on the website of the Federal Customs Administration (also in Italian), under the heading “customs information for private individuals”.
The currency in use is the Swiss Franc.

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