Taxi stand

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.

Colorful houses sit on the steep hills surrounding the town

Narrow streets wind through the town

Locarno is full of Italianate piazzas and arcades and colorful Renaissance buildings. The mild climate lends itself to palm trees and other tropical flora and azure water. Wooded slopes loom over the town’s center.

Bike shop

Locarno rooftops

The most famous square is Piazza Grande, lined with cafes and well-known for its annual film festival.

Piazza Grande

Cobblestone square

Locarno is first mentioned in the ninth century. It’s likely that a market existed near the lake since the Roman era. During the Middle Ages, Locarno and neighbor Ascona formed a community. In the 10th century, the Bishop of Milan tried to gain control of Locarno, but was foiled by Henry II, who incorporated it into the Diocese of Como. In the 12th century, Locarno gained autonomy before falling under Milanese rule in the 14th century. In the 16th century, Locarno became part of Switzerland.

Figurine keeping watch atop an arcaded building

Locarno is believed to have once been a glass-manufacturing town.

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