ticino weekend

Last Friday evening Martin and I drove with several of his hammer throwing friends down to Tenero, a small town on Lago Maggiore in Ticino (Italian-speaking Switzerland). Tenero is home to one of Switzerland’s national sports training centers, the Centro Sportivo Tenero, which was hosting a small hammer-throwing conference sponsored by the Swiss Federation. I was a bit car sick on the drive down so I slept through my first trip thorugh the St. Gotthard auto tunnel going underneath the Alps to Ticino.

Locarno’s Piazza Grande

Locarno’s Piazza Grande

Since Martin’s conference had meetings scheduled all day Saturday and Sunday I decided to spend Saturday exploring Locarno and nearby Ascona. While I briefly visited Locarno last summer to see Martin throw in the Swiss Championships, I hadn’t yet explored any of the city. After an early breakfast, I arrived in downtown Locarno around 8:30am and began the trek up to Sanctuario della Madonna del Sasso, a pilgrimage church (Madonna of the Rock) dating from 1596 which overlooks Locarno from the summit of a rocky, forested spur. The forecast called for rain about halfway up my slippery cobblestone hike it started to pour. I took shelter several times under trees and was fairly wet by the time I reached the church. Of course the church was closed for renovation, but it was worth the trip to see the outside architecture and the view over Locarno. I did ride funicular back down the hill though.

I spent the next few hours wandering around the rest of Locarno’s arcades of shops, churches, and Roman ruins near the Castello Vinsconteo. I most enjoyed seeing a man stirring a gigantic kettle of polenta in a quiet street corner. He must have a lot of local customers because I saw very few tourists that day.

When the weather cleared I took a bus 3km to the nearby fishing village of Ascona. Ascona is now considered an artists haven and health resort, and was a refuge for many German artists who faced persecution during World War II. Now the town is just a warren of narrow pedestrian streets with art galleries, shops, and lakefront cafes.

I finished walking Ascona and Locarno around 2:00 pm and returned to Locarno’s Piazza Grande to warm and dry cafe where I enjoyed a cappuccino and waited for Martin’s group to arrive at the nearby stadium for afternoon practice.

We enjoyed a quiet, early evening in Tenero and I spent Sunday reading in the sport center’s cafe while Martin’s meetings wrapped up. It was nice to be back home in Zurich by 6:00pm.

Here are some pictures of the weekend’s sights:

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