Tag Archives: locarno

Switzerland, Part 4: Alpine Peaks and Mountain Lakes



Driving through the valleys that spread out from Lake Maggiore is, for me, one of life’s great thrills. It’s just so darn charming and breathtaking, a feast for the eyes. Today we would explore the Valle Maggia and and the valley it leads to, the Val Bovona.

swissafter19Once you turn into the Val Bovona, things get really interesting. You’re deep into the heart of a valley and the Alps are on the other side, playing peek-a-boo with their snow-capped summits. There are more picturesque little stone villages that don’t quite feel real, and I don’t tire of it one bit.

swissafter23Our destination is the end of the line in the town of San Carlo, and there we find a cable car that will take us way, way up. Ascending above 1,000 meters of altitude, the ride up to Robiei is an event in itself, offering impressive views of the U-shaped Basodino Glacier. The view seems straight up, as if you were standing at a nearly upright wall filled with deep crevices, magnificent waterfalls spilling over the surface. And then the snow caps appear all around you. Sigh … The Alps: there’s nothing quite like the majesty of being in their presence.

Once our feet hit the ground at Robiei, we headed left, facing the glacier, walking through a tunnel, until one of the area’s gorgeous lakes appeared. Lakes in the Alpine peaks? It just got even better!


swissafter22Today, we got a late start due to a leisurely morning, and soon it was time to run back to the cable car to catch the last one going down for the night. This was not a place we were prepared to get stranded. We made it. On the cable car down, staring out at the beauty, I caught my love’s eye and we both had that smile of disbelief on our faces. Are we really here? And isn’t it so exquisitely beautiful?

Returning down the Val Bovona, we could now — with no cable car to catch — take our time and explore the area, stopping to take photos and fill our water bottles from the town fountain with fresh, clean mountain water. It felt like a little reward for having taken the time to explore the area. (Well, the real reward was the visual feast, but the water was nice, too.)

swissafter21We stopped at the town of Forglio. Is this place real? Set at the base of a majestic waterfall, this charming village twists and turns up a stone path, affording more views of the surrounding brilliance.

swissafter20Upon returning back to the lake, instead of heading back to Locarno, we headed to neighboring Ascona, a fairy tale town of twisting cobbled streets and brightly painted buildings that spill into Lake Maggiore. Here we had dinner, basking in the glory of a truly remarkable day that seemed more out of a dream. To top all that off, my dinner of shrimp risotto almost made me fall off my chair. Deep, deep gratitude for all of the sensory pleasures of this day!

Switzerland, Part 3: In the Magic Kingdom (Or, did my heart just stop beating, can someone please pinch me?)



Today was about Jack Johnson and the Valle Verzasca. I’m not sure which enchanted me more, but to my husband, who is reading this, the answer is you, for planning such a stellar trip: Hats off and a big heaping of gratitude! It’s true; this one was planned entirely by my beloved, and I was so impressed.

swissafter15Somehow, with all the adventure around us, we still managed to relax, take leisurely breakfasts while sipping fantastic coffee, and breathing in the moment. We did many laps in the pool and even fit in some reading … but, um, there is that valley I read about and that adorable looking town, so, yeah, let’s go!

The Valle Verzasca (which I still can’t pronounce properly) is, simply put, a slice of heaven. The road twists and turns, following the river, which pulses with water that’s brilliant turquoise and so clean that it makes you wonder if maybe the Evian folks sneak in and steal it. It spills over boulders the size of small houses, creating swimming holes and waterfalls.

The stone villages appear, and you wonder, “Where am I? And why did I not know this place existed?” Before too long, we came upon the town of Lavertezzo, which I’d found on a Google search of “most beautiful villages near Locarno.” As far as I was concerned, it could be on any list of most beautiful villages around the world.


Almost too cute for words, the village was layered atop a hill, giving the impression that there’s no separation between the town and the river, with copious boulders and waterfalls. Some of these boulders were giant, literally the size of a house, and made for the most beautiful little beach areas right in the river and lovely (albeit cold) swimming holes. But the air was hot, and the place too other worldly not to jump into that water — so I did, again and again. Jumping in, swimming to another rock, walking upstream on said rock, jumping back in and letting the current carry me, then doing it again. What folly!


Looking at the time, we realized we didn’t want to be late for Jack Johnson, and so this little party needed to wrap up so we could go to the next festivity.

swissafter16During July in Locarno, they turn the the Piazza Grande, or town square, into a concert venue, and what a lovely venue it makes. We decided to grab dinner right on the piazza and keep it simple: pizza and the local white merlot. I would normally go red with the pizza, but at 86 degrees, white won out.

The Swiss in this region definitely got their food influence from the Italians, and the pizza was fantastic. I recall capers and mushrooms and other yummy things, with a crust light and perfect,

swissafter12Now it was time for the concert, and since we were already there and happened to get in line early, we were front row. Literally. I have long appreciated Jack’s happy-go-lucky, sweet, soulful tunes, and seeing him live was a treat. Zack Gill — Jack’s piano, accordion and other instrument player — almost stole the show, playing with the audience and rockin’ out some sweet tunes. I kept turning around to be sure to take in my surroundings and just soak it all in as the music washed over us.

The show is over and it’s late: Time for these two jet-lagged travelers to get to sleep, floating on a cloud of music, sweet music!

To be continued…