The region around the hotel La Barca Blu provides countless and varied possibilities for taking a break. We will help you with organisation and can look after you with tailored recommendations.
Could you have imagined that right above Locarno there be an easily accessible vantage point from where you can see the lowest (river delta at Ascona) and the highest (Dufour summit, Monte Rosa) points in Switzerland? Located just a few minutes from Villa Orselina is the Cardada cable car, designed by Ticino's star architect Mario Botta. A range of activities such as hiking or walking are available for visitors, both in summer and winter, for example Nordic walking, mountain biking, paragliding, snowshoeing and skiing.
No two days are the same in the river landscape of the Valle Maggia. Countless waterfalls, the highest peaks, deserted low-lying pastures, unforgettable villages and tributary valleys. Here you can enjoy the good feeling that goes with being free to do nothing but able to do everything. There are many reasons to discover the valley - art, nature, architecture, sport or simply a leisurely swim in the river. Then let the day draw to a close in one of the cosy grottos.
The Valle Verzasca is undoubtedly one of those Ticino valleys that give a true impression of the history of this Alpine region south of the Gotthard. These traces of the past, reflected in the harmony and simplicity of the dwellings tell of the tough lives of the inhabitants, forced by a sometimes harsh nature to make their livelihood in places that today seem so idyllic that they warm the hearts of visitors. All this awaits sensitive and observant visitors - the valley in all its stature and natural glory before their very eyes, welcoming them in.
The famous pilgrimage site of Madonna del Sasso re-opened in April 2012. Its viewing terrace overlooks the town of Locarno, the mountains and the shimmering blue Lago Maggiore. A wealth of art, architecture, history and spirituality has been carefully restored and enhanced. The present site of the ochre-coloured, richly adorned pilgrimage church, Santa Maria Assunta, dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The original Franciscan church itself underwent some significant changes between 1900 and 1925. A "must see" and the main attraction of any visit is the Bramantino altarpiece, "Flight into Egypt" (around 1520). Following the footsteps of the pilgrims, visitors can retrace the ancient stations of the cross to Locarno in a journey taking roughly 40 minutes and passing two pilgrimage chapels.
The beautiful Isole di Brissago are reached by boat from Locarno and Brissago. The Brissago Islands are the botanical garden of Ticino. The smaller island (or Isola di Sant'Apollinare) is covered in spontaneous vegetation primarily originating in Insubria and left to grow naturally. The Isola Grande (or Isola di San Pancrazio) has been open to the public since 1950 and has mainly been planted with subtropical species of the northern and southern hemisphere. In 1885, Baroness Antoinette Saint-Léger made the islands her home and frequently entertained painters, sculptors, musicians and authors as her guests. The large island was turned into an exotic garden. In 1927, the new owner Max Emden, a businessman from Hamburg, had the present island palazzo, the harbour and the Roman bath built and extended the cultivation of exotic plants. The botanical garden offers a fascinating insight into subtropical horticulture. Open from March to October.
In the center of the Ticino capital Bellinzona stand some magnificent examples of mediaeval fortification architecture. Three castles located here, with their fortified battlements, towers and gates, are a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000.
Cannobio is the first Italian town after crossing the border. Going by boat from Locarno, Ascona or Brissago is a particularly good way of getting here, as the roads are very busy on market day. The colourful market on the lake is a popular tourist attraction. It mainly sells food and produce, cheese from the region and the whole of Italy, sausage and meats, fresh fish from Lago Maggiore and flowers are always in plentiful supply. The market's second main commodity is leather goods such as shoes, bags, belts and jackets. The piazza itself has many bars and restaurants. Please remember to observe the customs regulations. Open every Sunday from 8 am to 1 pm.