Motorcycle tours in the Canton of Ticino: The cities
Swiss hospitality and Italian charm
Locarno is the warmest city in Switzerland and, due to its location on Lake Maggiore, has for many decades been a destination for tourists from all round the world. The statesmen who met in Locarno in 1925 to negotiate Germany's admission to the League of Nations are likely to have enjoyed these very pleasant conditions. There is a charming contrast between the narrow alleyways of the old town and the smart modern hotels. At the heart of the city is Piazza Grande. This cobbled square is considered to be the most beautiful in Ticino.
Ascona lies right beside Locarno on the opposite side of the mouth of the River Maggiore and has a reputation as a city of painters, writers and philosophers. At the beginning of the 20th century a colony of artists was established on Monte Verità ('the Hill of Truth') just outside Ascona to the south, which attracted freethinkers from all over Europe. Ascona's lakeside promenade is considered to be the finest anywhere on Lake Maggiore. And yes, Opel did once name a car after this city. A little further south than Monte Verità lies the artists' village of Ronco, a dream backdrop for our photographic team and a splendid viewpoint over Lake Maggiore and the palm-forested Brissago Islands.
Bellinzona is the gateway to the south and has since 1878 been the seat of government of the Canton of Ticino. In centuries gone by this city controlled access to the important Alpine crossings, the Gotthard, Lukmanier and San Bernardino passes. Thanks to its strategic position as the entry gateway to Italy, Bellinzona boasts three of the best-preserved castles; all three are now designated as UNESCO world heritage sites.
With its population of over 60,000, Lugano is the largest city in Ticino and is the cultural and economic centre of the Canton. Every year in July, for instance, a huge jazz festival, EstivalJazz, is held here in Piazza della Riforma (Reformation Square). This is a perfect starting point for a walking exploration of the old town alleyways with their arcades, the lakeside promenade and the Parco Civico. If you want a superb aerial view of the city and lake, you will find that the best vantage point is on Monte Brè, the mountain adjoining Lugano's waterfront. The best way to get from the city up onto this mountain is to take the funicular railway; from the top you can enjoy a fantastic panoramic view across a wide area of southern Ticino.
Ticino for when you park your bike up
Information on all aspects of travelling in Ticino.
Mendrisio and the neighbouring town of Chiasso form the southern tip of Ticino. At first sight, the city of Mendrisio is dominated by the heavy transit traffic heading to and from Italy. However, this city merits a closer look: in the narrow streets of the old city centre there is barely any sense of hustle and bustle. Meanwhile, shopaholics are more likely to rave about the huge retail outlet centre named FoxTown.
- Top image: Lake Maggiore: A Mediterranean atmosphere on the lakeside streets and on Piazza Grande in Locarno.
- Image 2: Lake Lugano: Palms in Switzerland? A feature of southern Switzerland. © Jörg Künstle
Motorcycle trips in the Canton of Ticino
The ideal roundtrip for motorcycle fans willing to discover the Ticino on two wheels. The castles of Bellinzona and the mountain Monte San Giorgio (both UNESCO world heritage sites), the lake promenade in Ascona and the panoramic peak of mountain Monte Brè are just some highlights of this tour through the Italian part of Switzerland.
1 Maps note
To ensure you are able to try out our touring suggestions for yourself, the gpx downloads provided here offer a large number of intermediate destinations. This means they have a high data volume and cannot be directly represented on every sat nav system. To modify this, you can import these gpx files into the routing program suitable for your sat nav, and then divide them into portions digestible for the device. The final file size is then dependent upon the sat nav model and the accompanying software version. If you do not have routing software, this file can also be edited in the standard online routing systems. They offer the appropriate conversion tools for virtually all devices on the market.