From the shores of its lakes to the summits of its mountains, the Canton of Ticino is dotted with a large number of villages and towns, each with its own interesting history and different personality. There are six, however, that shine with even more splendour and that make people who visit them instantly fall in love, leaving in them a longing to go back for more.
A real beauty entirely made of stone, Lavertezzo is famous in Ticino – and in the rest of Switzerland – for being a picture-perfect riverside village with a very pretty parish church. But what really makes this place popular is its double arch bridge crossing the incredibly blue waters of the Verzasca river: built in the 17th century to facilitate commerce, today, it has become a meeting point for daredevils who dive from it into what can only be described as ice cold water.
Located at the very end of the winding road that goes up the Verzasca Valley running along the eponymous river, Sonogno is a pedestrian-only paradise of stone houses, fountains and red geraniums on windowsills. The tall mountains around it make it the ideal starting point for unforgettable hikes, while the streets around town offer countless opportunities to shop or sit down for local products such as cheese, cold cuts, wine and honey.
No wonder Morcote was named the ‘most beautiful village in Switzerland’ in 2016: this lakeside gem has everything it needs to steal your heart. The shore is dotted with cafes and restaurants, which offer the chance to take in the beauty of the village and the lake, the arcades are home to small shops and boutiques selling locally made artefacts and the back streets are, quite simply, a photographer’s dream come true with painted houses, ancient arches and pretty wooden doors. Morcote is also home to Parco Scherrer, a botanical garden and open-air museum that is an absolute must-see.
A bit off the beaten path, Carona is a village with incredible views over Lake Lugano and a quiet, easy-going vibe. Its parish church, dedicated to St. George, is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, with stunning frescoes and an imposing facade – the alleys all around it just beg to be explored. Behind every corner, you will find more beauty, more painted houses, ancient sundials, balconies in bloom and a few bars and restaurants ideal for al fresco dining. Nearby, Parco San Grato is a lovely botanical garden with breathtakingly beautiful panorama points.
An old fishermen’s village, Gandria is one of Ticino’s best-loved spots for a day trip, as it is easily reachable both by ferry boat or by taking a lovely and comfortable path from Lugano. Its houses, built on the water edge, were all painted a different colour so they would be easily recognisable from a distance by fishermen coming home in the dark and today, are home to a good variety of specialty stores and restaurants. The old traditional fishing boats still sit on the shore, giving visitors the impression of having travelled back in time.
One of Ticino’s most unique villages, Bosco Gurin has a very ancient and interesting history: it was built during the Walser migration in 1244 at the very end of the Maggia Valley, near the Italian border and unlike the rest of the region, where Italian is the official language, the inhabitants of Bosco Gurin still proudly speak a Walser German dialect. Their strong attachment to their roots and traditions can also be seen in the wonderful architecture of the village, almost entirely made of wooden Walser-style houses, which add a unique Alpine charm to it. If you want to see Bosco Gurin at its most beautiful, visit in the winter when the village is covered in snow and the slopes are open for skiing.