Ticino on the southeast border of Switzerland brings the Mediterranean to the mountains and represents an enduring marriage between the competence of Switzerland and the culture of Italy. Ticino's balmy climate, clear blue lakes, and happy-go-lucky resort atmosphere put it at the top of Swiss citizens' own vacation choices.
Italy manifests itself in the Ticino's charm, cuisine, and architecture, all enhanced by a great deal of sunshine. The influence of Switzerland is obvious in the purity and cleanliness of the environment and the reliability and punctuality of the region's transportation.
Getting here is actually part of the appeal. Direct trains to Ticino from Zurich to Lugano take approximately three hours and pass through the Gotthard Tunnel. However, Switzerland's natural surroundings are especially stunning when arriving on the Bernina, Palm, or William Tell Express.
Separated from Italy by Lugano and Maggiore lakes, the Switzerland resort towns of Locarno and Lugano are surrounded by vast mountains. Yet they're linked from Switzerland to the rest of Europe by modern transportation networks.
Regularly scheduled boats and ferries navigating Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano of Switzerland carry passengers between waterfront attractions.
In Ticino, Locarno's Lake Maggiore attracts numerous travelers with a passion for water sports. Even visitors to Switzerland who don't like to get their feet wet will appreciate strolling the lakeside promenade, planted with fragrant magnolia trees that overlook some of the world's most glamorous and expensive yachts.
Film fans in Locarno Ticino reluctantly leave the sunshine to view the bright offerings at the city's International Film Festival. Annual music events in the Swiss town include the American Music Festival, when open-air concerts, disco evenings, and beach parties draw energetic crowds. The Camellia Festival in in March celebrates the magnificent subtropical vegetation of Ticino.
Ascona is another Ticino resort on Lake Maggiore boasting Swiss five-Star hotels. Renowned as the Swiss Riviera, it boasts trendy boutiques, a romantic lake-front promenade, narrow alleys, and scenic golf courses. The New Orleans Jazz Festival is an annual highlight in Switzerland.
Lake Maggiore is surrounded by some of Switzerland's most bucolic hiking areas such as the Verzasca, the Maggia, and the Onsernone Valley as well as the Centovalli. The best way to discover Switzerland's Hundred Valleys (Centovalli) is by taking the panoramic Centovalli Railway from Locarno to Domodossola (Italy).
Nestled on a bay between snow-capped Monte Brè and San Salvatore, two steep, cone-shaped mountains, cosmopolitan Lugano is a great Switzerland city for walkers, filled with parks and plazas, flowers and churches.
Excellent Lugano Ticino museums with world-class collections have made it a cultural mecca as well. Lugano's many open spaces, with their Italianate villas and revered churches, endow this part of Switzerland with a distinctive Mediterranean flair.
Outdoor cafes, leafy lakeshore promenades, and the pedestrian-only city center abuzz with restaurants and tony boutiques draw well-heeled visitors to this city in the Ticino.
Like its Ticino neighbor, Lugano hosts a number of annual musical events.
The traditional Blues to Bop Festival, Estival Jazz, the pyrotechnical Lakeside Festival, and the Wine Harvest Festival all attract loyal audiences to Ticino.
At some point, make time to sail Lugano's placid lake. If you can tear yourself away from town, the charming fishing village of Morcote features statues and replicas of famous world monuments in its Victorian-vintage Parco Scherrer.
Want to get high? For an awe-inspiring view, ascend San Salvatore or Monte Brè, one of the sunniest mountains in Switzerland, via funicular or cable car. Descend the same way or hike down from these vantage points through quaint villages that appear frozen in time.
More of this article: Uncommon Attractions & A Taste of Ticino, Switzerland.