A few days ago Christine, Otto and I traded our hiking shoes for a glorious two days in Locarno, a small town in Tocini, near the boarder of Italy. This road trip was never on the cards, it was decided for us by the bad weather in Weggis.

Finding accommodation
Upon agreeing to road trip to the south, Christine got on her computer and booked us accommodation at Palagiovani, a hostel designed for young people travelling on a budget; because of this, I was expecting it to be under par but I was pleasantly surprised by how clean it is. The food isn’t bad either.

Free transportation within the city
I’m a big fan of freebies, so you can imagine my delight when the receptionist gave us discount tickets for cable cars, ferry’s and wait for it… free tickets for train and bus rides around the city – crazy right? Especially for a country where nothing is free, not the loo’s not the water they have in abundance, not even swimming in the public pools. I promise you, if they could, they would sell you the very air you breathe.

Sight seeing
Since we were in Locarno quite early, we decided to go sightseeing. We started with the oldest existing castle called Castello Visconteo. History books tell me that in the 13th century a man named Visconti seized the castle from an unsuspecting family, and named it after himself (not pompous at all). Then in the 15th century it fell into the hands of the Eidgenossen (confederates), but the previous guy’s name stuck. Castello Visconteo has now remodelled itself into an archaeological museum.

Castello Visconteo  Photo credit: Wikipedia
I think Visconti would have beheaded us, if he saw us prancing around like this in his front yard.

Good day black Madonna
After Castello Visconteo we made our way to Madonna del Sasso, a monastery overlooking the city. This sanctuary is quite an important one to tourists doing the pilgrimage pass, more so because it is said to be the place where Virgin Mary appeared in 1400’s.
We walked up the steep but utterly stunning Via Crucis, which has about twelve chapels leading to the monastery.

Madonna del Sasso
Let’s play a game called, ‘spot the guy who betrayed Jesus’.
Madonna del Sasso from below
Jesus’ mom must have loved great views because this one is breath-taking!
Admiring the work of art inside the monastery

A taste of Locarno
At the end of our little expedition Otto bought us some amaretti, a delicious almond flavoured macaroon, laced with schnapps. It is also a speciality of canton Ticino, I’m told when it comes to making this delicacy, other cantons pale in comparison.

My first taste of amaretti

Sun-downers at  Papa Joe’s
After being baked by the sun on our meanderings, we went back to our rooms to freshen up. We then took a bus to Papa Joe’s for some much needed sun-downers. The restaurant is only an arm’s reach from lake Majjoire. We were fortunate enough to get an outside table, which meant we could watch the sunset as we downed our beers, whose names I could not pronounce.


Photo credit: Otto B and me.