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Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo, Ascona

Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo is not only the center of Ascona’s old town, but its high campanile adorned with a baroque version of the town’s coat of arms is the skyline. The building we see today has been around since the 16th century and is the result of the original 13th-century structure’s enlargement. […]

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Ascona

Ascona is considered Locarno’s lakeside twin. It is located just across the Maggia delta on the north tip of Lake Maggiore. Ascona is a once-tiny fishing port turned popular resort town. Writers, artists and celebrities such as Paul Klee, Hermann Hesse and Carl Jung all sought refuge in Ascona’s sunny lakeside setting. Though the retail […]

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Santuario della Madonna del Sasso

Locarno’s main sight, Santuario della Madonna del Sasso, sits partway up a steep hill and therefore requires a bit of effort to reach. Monk Bartolomeo d’Ivrea built this sanctuary in 1480 after the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared to him in a vision. Though there is a funicular that runs to the sanctuary, you still have […]

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Locarno

Swiss resort town Locarno crowns the northern tip of Lake Maggiore and nestles up against the balmy southern foothills of the Alps. Though it is in Switzerland, Locarno is in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. Its proximity to Italy makes it feel very un-Swiss-like. Locarno is full of Italianate piazzas and arcades and colorful Renaissance […]

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Stresa

Strolling along Stresa’s wide waterfront promenade is like stepping back in time to when wealthy aristocrats embarked on grand tours of continental Europe. Extravagant hotels and luscious gardens line the picturesque lakefront. Don’t forget to have a seat on a bench and take in the view of Lake Maggiore and Isola Bella. Wander the cobblestone […]

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Ghiffa

You have to watch signs very carefully to catch the turn uphill to Ghiffa. The main attraction here is the 17th century Il Sacro Monte della SS. Trinità di Ghiffa, an unfinished Baroque complex with a sanctuary church, three chapels and the portico of the Via Crucis. The complex sits at the base of Mount […]

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Isola Madre, Borromean Islands

Isola Madre is the largest of the Borromean Islands. Palazzo Madre was constructed in the 16th – 18th centuries on the former site of a church and cemetery, both of which were relocated to Isola Bella. The villa is full of 17th century paintings, puppets, marionettes, dolls, puppet scenery and porcelain. Amazingly, the English-style botanical […]

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Isola Superiore (Pescatori), Barromean Islands

This small, steep fishing village was first inhabited in the 10th century. I’m not sure how many people lived on it then, but today it has about 50 year-round residents. Chiesa di San Vittore, which dates from the 11th century, is the lone sight. It takes about two minutes to see it, then you can […]

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Isola Bella, Borromean Islands

The jewels of Lake Maggiore are the Isole Borromee, or Borromean Isands. There are four islands and three are open to visitors. They can be accessed via ferry from one of the lakeside towns such as Stresa or Baveno. In the 17th century, Count Vitaliano Borromeo constructed this baroque palace on what was an unimpressive […]

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Santa Caterina del Sasso

Santa Caterina del Sasso clings dramatically to the rocky cliff on the east side of Lake Maggiore. The hermitage was founded in the 12th century by Alberto Besozzi, a wealthy local merchant. After surviving a brutal storm while crossing the lake, Besozzi decided to stay here and live out his life in peace. Besozzi constructed […]

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