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Locarno porto - panoramio.jpg
Coat of arms of Locarno

Coat of arms
Location of Locarno
Locarno is located in Switzerland
Locarno is located in Canton of Ticino
Coordinates: 46°10′N 8°48′E / 46.167°N 8.800°E / 46.167; 8.800
 • ExecutiveMunicipio
with 7 members
 • MayorSindaco (list)
Alain Scherrer FDP.The Liberals 
(as of September 2015)
 • ParliamentConsiglio comunale
with 40 members
 • Total18.69 km2 (7.22 sq mi)
200 m (700 ft)
(Dec 2017[2])
 • Total16,012
 • Density860/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Italian: Locarnesi
Postal code
SFOS number5113
LocalitiesSolduno, Monte della Trinità, Monte Bré, Ponte Brolla, Riazzino (Piano di Magadino), Cerra Piano (Piano di Magadino)
Surrounded byAscona, Avegno, Cadenazzo, Contone, Cugnasco, Gerra (Verzasca), Gordola, Lavertezzo, Losone, Magadino, Minusio, Muralto, Orselina, Piazzogna, San Nazzaro, Tegna, Tenero-Contra
SFSO statistics

Locarno (Italian: [loˈkarno], German: [loˈkarno]; Ticinese: Locarn [luˈkɑːrn]; formerly in German: Luggárus [luˈɡaːrʊs]) is a southern Swiss town and municipality in the district Locarno (and its capital), located on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore at its northeastern tip in the canton of Ticino at the southern foot of the Swiss Alps. It has a population of about 16,000 (proper), and about 56,000 for the agglomeration of the same name including Ascona besides other municipalities.[3]

The town of Locarno is located on the northeastern part of Maggia's delta; across the river lies the town Ascona on the southwestern part of the delta.

It is the 74th largest city in Switzerland by population[citation needed] and the third largest in the Ticino canton, after Lugano and Bellinzona.

The official language of Locarno is Italian.

The town is known for hosting the Locarno International Film Festival which takes place every year in August and involves open-air screenings at the main square, the Piazza Grande. It is also known for the Locarno Treaties, a series of European territorial agreements negotiated here in October 1925.

In January 2004, the Italian historian Marino Vigano speculated that Locarno's castle may have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.[4]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Locarno and Ascona in the Ticino, Switzerland
  • Locarno, Switzerland (May 2015)
  • Locarno & Ascona, Lago Maggiore - Ticino
  • Locarno Switzerland
  • Locarno, Switzerland (2017)


We've been visiting Switzerland with a series of programs and now we’re taking you to the southern part of the country where they speak Italian. We’re visiting the town of Locarno. This is a very pretty little resort town along the shores of Lake Maggiore. Our main focus is the city of Locarno with its lovely streets and shops. We will take you on some walks through the narrow pedestrian lanes of the old town, show you the market, the waterfront, and there's quite a bit to see outside the old town in the surrounding areas, so you are going to get an in-depth look at the region. We're going to take you over to Ascona, a little waterfront village. We will take you on a couple of boat rides and we will also bring you up into the nearby valleys on a bus trip, and , then we will do some hiking through the little stone villages. A good place to begin our close look at the town of Locarno is at the old Piazza Grande, the center of town. And you can see the old town here has got an extensive arcade with lots of restaurants and ice cream shops, cafes and little stores to poke around in. You can have some pizza, pasta. Choose from a variety of delicious gelato flavors. The food's Italian. They speak Italian and yet, yes were in Switzerland. The market sells all kinds of products, especially the local handmade crafted items. There is fabrics and products in wool, ceramics and wooden objects. You can find some wonderful local foods at the market like fresh cheese, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. And some of the vendors sell this secondhand merchandise like old CDs and books, and even music tapes and clothing can be found here. It's all very down to earth, very local. These are casual part-time vendors just selling their stuff. We notice the paving in the piazza was smooth, water-worn stones in various colors, really quite beautiful. Hotel Dell' Angelo is a convenient place to stay right on the main piazza. We'll show more about that later. A posted map gives you an idea of how small the old town is. We're going to go explore it. There is a historic castle here nearly 500 years old and it houses the Archaeological Museum. We'll take you inside the castle museum coming up later in the program. And you'll notice the streets here are very narrow. There's no cars allowed in this part of the old town. It's strictly for pedestrians, which always makes it lovely for a stroll, very safe for the families, nice and quiet and peaceful here. Locarno's old town goes for about six blocks by four blocks so it's not really huge, but it's big enough to enjoy a nice stroll and have a poke around in the art galleries and look in some of the antique stores. Quite a few modern shop-fronts along with the mix. To give you an idea of the scale and location of the old town look at the map that shows the overview of Locarno and then the Piazza Grande and just above it those few streets, the pedestrian zone of the old town. You'll notice as you walk around these quiet lanes there are not many tourists up here. It's mostly local people. It's just a few blocks off of the main piazza, but many visitors wouldn't even realize that this pedestrian zone is right next to the main square of town. So by all means when you're in Locarno, go ahead, enjoy that Piazza Grande and we'll show you the waterfront shortly and some other parts of town, but be sure to get up into these little lanes. It's so charming, and there's a few bars and cafes up here and little shops, and it's a residential zone as well. It's a place where locals just spend some time of day chatting with their neighbors and generally just hanging out. It's kind of simple place to enjoy the mundane aspects of living here. You'll feel part of the scene instead of being just a tourist. Those narrow lanes are just short block over from the main piazza, so it's easy to just walk back and forth, go to one area and then come back down to the big square. You'll find the Tourist Information Office on the Piazza Grande in a nice new modern building, and they've got plenty of maps and brochures and information for you inside. There's a map posted for you out front that shows the location of Locarno and Lake Maggiore. There are some nice boat rides you can take on Lake Maggiore. Let's show you a 30 minute round-trip ride over to the town of Magadino back, and forth crossing the northern tip of the lake providing a nice view from the water, looking back at Locarno. It's Lake Maggiore, which is really a huge lake. It goes for many miles right down into Italy. There are some nice boat rides that you can take on Lake Maggiore. For example if you're up early, you could catch a short ride leaving at 8 AM. But in this case you can just take a short boat ride, if you choose, it just takes about 15-20 minutes to go across this little inlet of the lake. So that's what we did. It was curious, though,. It was so early in the morning that there was nobody else on the boat. It was like an 8 AM departure and it had to leave anyway because they had to go across to the other side to pick up some passengers and there you will see some people were getting on, but it's kind of like reverse rush-hour, nobody's leaving the village at 8 AM except a few oddball tourists. From the lake you have a nice view looking back at Locarno. Here you can see how the village is just surrounded by the mountains. The snowcapped peaks in the distance and the valleys beyond and just a small town, population about 10 to 15,000 here, a number of hotels along the waterfront and the residential homes up on the hill. Just crossing the lake over to the next village and there we're going to pick up some local passengers. It's a mix of some students heading over to the University for their classes, some workers going into Locarno for the working day – short stop and then we're on our way. We just stop at the small town of Magadino. It just takes 15 minutes to go from Locarno across to Magadino, and then 15 minutes to go back to Locarno. However, there are some much longer boat rides that you could take on Lake Maggiore. You could go for 3 1/2 hours if you wanted to head on down to Isola Bela. That's down in the Italian part of Lake Maggiore near the town of Stressa as we will show you in the map in a moment. It makes a very worthwhile daytrip, which provides yet another reason for spending a few days in Locarno. There's a combined ticket where you can travel by train, Locarno down to Stressa and enjoy time in that area, and then take the boat back up to Locarno. It's a full day excursion. Now we're back in Locarno. Coming up in 5 minutes. We will take you on another boat ride over to Ascona, a beautiful waterfront village, and then later. We will bring you up into the valleys and do a little hiking. It's an easy walk from the boat to the main square. Now we're going to take you on another extended walk in the pedestrian lanes of the old town seeing some new sites. And the town is right across the street, so everything is very convenient here in the heart of Locarno. Right away the pedestrian zone begins again, lined with those arcades, and that leads you back into the Piazza Grande. You'll always find yourself coming back to this main central square. And there are some smaller piazzas up on the side streets as well. You find yourself walking in circles here but when you come to a spot from a different angle it looks like different street or a different restaurant. They have a Mediterranean climate here in the Ticino in the south part of Switzerland. Very pleasant temperature. You will even find palm trees growing. They don't get any significant winter weather here. It doesn't get real cold. They might have the occasional dusting of snow, but that would be pretty unusual. The climate here is technically classified as humid subtropical which might be kind of surprising to hear about Switzerland, but it is the southern, sunny section. In fact, they have sunshine more than 56% of the time. So it's all really quite moderate, quite lovely temperature, great place to come anytime of the year. Next were going to experience firsthand some of the history of the area with a visit to the castle. Just a block beyond Piazza Grande you get to Castello Visconteo, which is the Municipal and Archaeological Museum. There is the turreted tower, and crenellated walls all around it. And we're going to have a look inside this castle. You pay your admission. In this case the museum building is part of the historical exhibition because the building itself is as old as some of the contents on exhibit. It's the only museum you really need to see in Locarno. And they do have a nice little display with some ceramics and glassware as we will show you. And they brought together some artifacts from the surrounding region. You've got the old columns and capitals and some architectural details. They were doing some restoration of a painting, here. There are some original frescoes on the walls of this castle. This castle has an old primitive feeling to it. You can almost imagine back in the day, 500 years ago when there were some elegant banquets in these rooms and they've done a very nice job of renovating the castle and installing some modern display cases with really excellent lighting. Some ancient Roman glass. You might be surprised that 2000 years ago the Romans made some beautiful delicate glassware and even 3000 years ago the Egyptians were making glassware. And there's some little signs that tell you, and label the artifacts, tell you little bit about the history. It even looks like there is a dungeon, there's some small rooms down the basement. They might've locked somebody away. Right next to the museum there is a highway underpass where they did some archaeological excavations and they found some Roman artifacts on the site. That is a free attraction just a couple blocks from Piazza Grande. Well, now we're getting hungry so we tried Ristoranti Sensi. It was only a block from our hotel, so very convenient and worked out really well. They have lovely pastas and salads and fish, chicken, meat, everything could imagine on the menu. It's the beauty of eating in Ticino – you can have Italian cuisine and Swiss service. Note the arugula on top, looks like a salad but it's really a pasta dish with pesto and arugula and tomato, and sliced Parmesan – delicious, hot right out of the kitchen. And they have a wide variety of other dishes, chicken, fish, and vegetarian items. Swiss produce a range of red and white wines of very high quality, even though they're not well known outside the country because the production amount is quite small. Were going to show you a lot more of Locarno at the end of the segment with a special 3-screen presentation that really packs in a lot of information for you. But first we're going off on several day trips out from Locarno. Were going to take you to the waterfront village of Ascona and. We will take you up into the mountains for a trip to the nearby valleys. We've been visiting the city of Locarno in the south of Switzerland. And now we're going to take a little trip over to the nearby village Ascona. Here too, you can go by boat from Locarno, or you can just take the city bus. It only takes about twelve minutes on the city bus to get over here to Ascona. We'll show you on this map how easy it is to get over there by city bus, then we will take you walking through the narrow lanes of the small pedestrian center. and then getting back by boat on the lake is a nice alternative. We'll show you that boat ride at the end of the segment. When you get off the bus it's quite easy to get your bearings. This is a small village after all, Ascona only has a population of about five thousand people, and an area of about 2 square miles, so it's easy to get around. If you get disoriented, just ask someone for directions to the lake. It's a short walk. And as you can see in the map, the central village area is only several hundred meters wide. But you will discover many beautiful sights in this small area. It's really worth the trip over from Locarno. You'll probably be drawn first to that waterfront picturesque scene and row of restaurants and shops along Lake Maggiore. But you also find that those little pedestrian lanes just inland have great attractions: shops, art galleries, more restaurants, and beautiful buildings. We will show you both sides of town in our brief visit. You're going to see that this is very pretty little village. It's another one of these picture postcards come to life, especially along the waterfront promenade with its row of outdoor restaurants and colorful facades – very inviting to sit on the terrace, have a drink, relax, have a meal and watch the people stroll by. Notice this outdoor canopy for an important football match at this lakeside bar that is getting ready for a big night with the games. Like Locarno, this town has an Italian feeling to it even though we're still in Switzerland, the country's southern canton of the Ticino. There really is something very special about this kind of waterfront where you don't have any cars. You've got the lakeside and you've got beautiful buildings with the restaurants and a broad area for pedestrian promenade, and trees and gardens. It seems so classic and typical in your imagination of the ideal waterfront village, but in reality you just don't run into this all that often. There is normally a road and cars or something in the way of the view. Here it's all laid out in a perfect setting. You can see how popular boating is here for fishing and pleasure craft and just cruising. For the visitor it's all part of the picturesque scenery. You'll reach a landscaped garden with flowers and a playground for the kids at the end of the promenade. After you've had a good look at the waterfront, perhaps you had a meal or drink, then take a stroll inland to these pedestrian lanes just a block or two away. You can wander around here for another hour or two if you're going to do some shopping or have a drink, or just do some sightseeing. It's just big enough that you can get a little bit lost, but so small that you'll quickly find your way again. You're going to run into some friendly fellow visitors. People here are in a good mood – they're on holiday. Ascona is a popular destination for the Swiss. It is like their little Mediterranean seaside village. It's something rather exotic and different than you find in most of the rest of Switzerland, snow-covered mountains and all that, and it's really not that far away from the northern part of the country. You can drive down here or take the train and arrive within a few hours from much of Switzerland. It's an easier stretch than going on down to Italy and provides a lot of the same rewards if not more so. Because the town is so small you're going to find that these little back lanes are one of the main attractions. And we will show you the distance on a map. If you were to walk around the entire little village it's only 1 kilometer and then if you got ambitious and wanted to walk the little side lanes that's another kilometer. So you can walk through the entire village in just over one mile of walking. So it's an easy stroll. Of course you'll want to spend time looking in the shops and have a coffee, maybe get a gelato, and just look around. You might often find in your travels that just this simple little aimless stroll is one of the most pleasurable activities. You certainly don't need a map here, just follow your nose, take a left, take a right and you might find yourself walking around in circles, but that's all part of the fun. Of course, a desirable setting like this is been occupied by people for a long time. The earliest archaeological remains go back to the late Bronze Age. There is settlement here during the Roman time later on, and it was during the Middle Ages that the area got its name, Ascona, and it was always linked from that time on with nearby Locarno. Many of the locals, especially the older folks don't speak the nation's two main languages Swiss-German or French. They just speak Italian. Now they might speak a little English, especially people who are working in the shops and restaurants – they're going to speak some German and English, and of course Italian, maybe a little French. Most Europeans who work in the travel industry are multilingual and so you don't have any problem getting taken care of in the shops and restaurants. Even in a little out-of-the-way village like this. It's a good time to brush up on your basic Italian, however, such as buon giorno and grazie, si, prego, vino, pasta, basta, grazie, toilet. Just for fun and show little courtesy. You can see Ascona in a couple hours, but you might find this is a nice place to drop anchor for a few days. You could spend the night here in one of the thirty-four hotels and keep busy eating in the sixty-three restaurants. It had been sunny here a little earlier in the day and then it was cloudy bright. And then we got some rain showers, so it was time for the umbrellas. But it's kinda nice though with these cobblestones. You get that glistening light reflected off the cobblestones, especially if we were here at twilight. That would really be magical. We tolerate the rain for a while and then it clears up. Temperatures are very pleasant here in the month of May. Fortunately, the climate in the south of Switzerland is considered subtropical, kind of like the shores of the Mediterranean. The weather can change pretty quickly here when you're near the mountains. We are right next to the Alps after all and right on the shores of Lake Maggiore. One way to escape any bad weather is duck into a restaurant and have a nice meal such as at Ristorante Carra. It serves Mediterranean cuisine in a refined setting and a varied menu. They make their own fresh pasta Italian-style. Remember, we're in Ticino, which is very much the Italian side of Switzerland. And so you'll find that most of the restaurants in Ascona feature Italian food. Of course, there's a variety of other sorts of fast food, delis, take-out counters, pizzeria, anything you want. While those little lanes are attractive and certainly worth your time, there is nothing like the waterfront promenade here at Ascona. That's what makes the place so very special. You could easily return to Locarno by bus, you already know where the bus stop is, but why not consider the other option? Looking at the signs and the boats and schedules, hmm, the bus stop is 5 blocks away and the boat dock is right in front of us. Luckily, our timing was perfect because it was arriving and we only had a few minutes to purchase our tickets which we quickly did. You could buy an all day Swiss boat pass for $20. Of course they are very efficient and quickly selling you the right ticket, one-way back to Locarno. You can pay with cash or credit card, ask a few questions while you're at it, and then move along. If we miss this boat we have to wait for another hour, so it would be a good idea to be aware of the boat schedule and adjust the timing of your visit accordingly. We got on the boat just in time for them to pull up the gangplank behind us, and cast off. Luckily our timing was perfect because at the moment we decided to take the boat, it was arriving and we only had a few minutes to purchase our tickets which we did quickly – only ten Swiss francs about ten, eleven dollars. Of course they are very efficient and quickly selling you the right ticket. And you can pay with cash or credit card, ask a few questions while you're at it, and then move along. If we miss this boat we have to wait for another hour. We got on the boat just in time for them to pull up the gangplank and cast off. Suddenly we find ourselves on the boat enjoying the view of the Ascona waterfront as we away. Alternatively, it would've been easy to walk up to the bus stop and ride back to Locarno that way. But this was a lot more fun, and it only takes 25 minutes by boat from Ascona around to Locarno. It's a nonstop ride, and you'll discover it's quite scenic, and actually faster than the bus because there we were at the boat dock ready to go. The boat is comfortable, you can sit outdoors on the deck, especially in such nice weather. Yes, the rains have stopped. Or you can sit down below. Inside they've got a snack bar and not crowded because we're here in the month of May. Imagine in the summer time the boat would probably fill up, but we-re enjoying a lot of space here. How unusual, they have an eighteen-hole golf course in Ascona. A few years ago it was voted the country's best golf course. You don't see that many golf courses anywhere in Europe as you're traveling around, nothing like in places like America. Elsewhere in town they've also got a miniature golf course and a couple of small museums and eleven historic sites in Ascona. The boat company is called Navigazione Lago Maggiore, and operates cruises throughout this very large lake, most of which is in Italy. They also have cruises on Lake Garda and Lake Como – a whole series of operations you can pick from. The same boat company operates cruises throughout Lake Maggiore, most of which is in Italy and is quite a large lake. And also they have cruises on Lake Garda and Lake Como – quite a whole series of operations you can pick from. You could easily build a rewarding vacation by cruising the lakes of southern Switzerland and northern Italy. We will be taking you on another short bruise in a different episode when we go down to Lugano and take a ride to Gandria. That's in our other show about the Ticino focusing more on Lugano. Locarno's a great home base for visiting the southern part of Switzerland. You've got excellent restaurants, a lot of shops, and excellent hotels to pick from, and it's a charming town as we've been showing you with its main piazza and the arcaded columns all around and the quiet little pedestrian streets in the back lanes. There is our lakeside Hotel Geranio, which worked out perfectly for us. It's only one block away from the train station and it's right on the waterfront a block away from the main part of central Locarno, very nice and friendly people there too. As you get off the boat you find you are right here in the center of town. Ciao, ciao. So it's very easy to just walk across the street over to the main square, the Piazza Grande and discover more about Locarno. Well after resting up overnight and exploring a little bit of Locarno, it's up in the morning at our Hotel Geranio, and were getting ready for another daytrip excursion. We're going to take you out to see the valleysm the nearby valleys and do little hiking. But first breakfast. Typical of European hotels, the breakfast is included in the price of your room and it's quite a nice spread: there is breads and there's meats and cheeses and juice and cereals and fruits and all kinds of good stuff. It's always nice to get together with your fellow travelers in the morning and chew over last night and yesterday and the day's activities coming up. The hotel setting right on the waterfront provides a nice view for us in the morning. You could sit outdoors if you like and enjoy the terrace and the scenery. Or just take your breakfast inside the dining room. Hopping on the bus, we're going off on an adventure this morning were going to take a bus ride up into one of the nearby valleys. Now this is one of the great things to do while you're in Locarno, is to head into the mountains and you can take your pick of several different deep valleys that go way into the Alps. We're driving up into the valley called Valle Maggia and visiting the small village of Binasco. Wonderful view of Binasco here. It's a very picturesque spot. It looks like it popped right out of a postcard with that old, stone, arched bridge. Little cloudy, a little overcast but we really had some nice views and we're able to walk around in, a couple of these little stone villages. The buildings are made from stone which is quarried nearby. They've got lots of good quality stone for building available in these valleys. So, usually architects, local builders, take advantage of local materials, in this case it's stone. And then going a little bit further. This was quite a day. Some of these stone villages were abandoned about 100 years ago when the region fell on economic hard times. And the residents, many of them uprooted themselves and moved to California. And there they established a wine-growing industry and they started producing a wine that they called Italian Swiss Colony Wine. Member hearing about that Italian Swiss Colony Wine. Well, here's where the people originally came from. They are, wiss but of Italian cultural ancestry in the sense that they speak Italian, and they formed a little colony in California. So a lot of these villages have got some empty homes, empty buildings and yet the people who are living here today seem to be doing fine. They're in modern Switzerland, after all, which has a very strong economy. There some spectacular scenic highlights. There's waterfalls and there's a beautiful river that goes right through the middle of this valley. We will be doing some walking on the way back. We're taking the bus in and then we are going take some little strolls in a few more of these villages. Most of the buildings are occupied today and they are quite nicely maintained actually. They look so ancient, they they kind of look like hobbit homes that have just grown up out of the earth. All of those natural stone building materials are very organic and functional and attractive. And you can stop for some refreshments at a couple of the villages as well. Here we took a little stroll, just walked for about a mile along the stream. And it is nice and level, very comfortable. Through a pleasant forested valley, and then anytime you feel a little tired you can just go back over the road and catch the next bus coming by, which is what we did in a little while. It's a very well-marked trail. Back on the road, look for the bus stop, and you'll probably have to wait a little while, the buses are not too frequent here. Usually once every hour, so you want to time your walk so that you're not waiting too long. And then it's about a 45-minute bus ride from Binasco back into Locarno town. There are some other options while you're up here. You could change bus in Binasco and go explore a different side valley. Up in Bavona Valley you could visit the old town of Sonlerto, a little village. And if you like more hiking you could walk from there back to Bignasco, it's about a two-hour walk. But probably the route that we've just shown you is going to be perfectly satisfactory for most travelers. It'll take you about half a day. So this is only if you're spending more than one night in Locarno. If you have a few days relaxing in that charming Lakeside city, this is certainly an activity you might enjoy. After the big day we rest up overnight, and this time were showing you the Hotel Del Angelo which is another place that we stayed at in a different trip to Locarno. Really quite nice, located on the Piazza Grande in the center of town. And they put on a very good breakfast as usual with Swiss hotels. Typically, breakfast begins about 7 o'clock in the morning and we get started our day's activities, about 8:30, get an early start, and in this segment were going to take you out walking through Locarno town, especially show you some of those little back lanes, starting out in the main square. There's a morning market right next to the Piazza Grande so it's kind of interesting to have a look at the at foods they, and here's a fellow making some polenta, it's made from a cornflower. Nice advantage of a hotel that's right on the main square, you can go for a morning wa and right away you'll see some kind of activities. You'll probably see the beer truck, it's out there every day carting away the empty kegs and bringing in the fresh ones. Not too many things open at 7:30 or 8 o'clock in the morning. Bakeries opening up, there is couple of coffee shops that are open. Of course the stores are not open at that hour. They also have a casino, you could do a little bit of gambling. Strolling along now in the Piazza Grande. It's really a marvelous urban setting with the arcaded sidewalks. And you've got restaurants that are indoors as well as outdoors and somewhat sheltered from the rain and the sun by the arcades, by the awnings and the roofs. A variety of stores along here. You've got a department store, you've got the restaurants of course and gelato, there's bars, cafes, clothing, a whole variety of merchandise for sale. In the German-speaking part of Switzerland they might call it the Hauptmarkt and in the French side on the west, this would be the Grand Place, but here it's Piazza Grande. You see on the map in red the main square and those little lanes that extend out from it that we're walking on. And there's the train station and boat dock locations. We will focus on the center of town now and take you on a stroll through the lanes. As happens so many times when visiting a place you focus on the main square, the monuments, go to a museum, perhaps, go down to the waterfront and overlook the real heart and soul of the city, that local place where people stroll and hang out and shop and live. And this is very much the case here with Locarno. It's a lot of fun to just take a walk on these streets and they're easy. They're not very steep. It's quiet. There's no cars. It's a small area. You really can't get lost. Just stroll around. You might find yourself walking in circles a little bit, but that's okay, you go up one lane and then back down the same lane in the other direction. It looks like a different place maybe. And you can easily find your way back to the main Piazza anytime, just head downhill. You'll notice it's also prime shopping area. These are more stores for local people or for some discriminating visitors. They've got art galleries, there's antique shops, clothing stores. They even have some small hotels in the neighborhood. This antique store, Bellerio Antichita, has indoor and outdoor display areas, and not only do they sell works of art, but you can purchase furnishings. You can get cabinets and chest tables, and cupboards and chairs dating back hundreds of years and still functional. Open since 1956, it's worth going inside and wandering around. And of course you'll always find the neighborhood cafes and bars and restaurants up here. You might get better prices than down on the main square. They have a Mediterranean climate here in the Ticino in the south part of Switzerland. You'll even find palm trees growing. They don't get any significant winter weather here. It doesn't get real cold. They might have the occasional dusting of snow but that would be pretty unusual. It's a very pleasant temperature. You can see there are easily enough things to keep you busy in Locarno for several days. You don't want to just drop in for one hour and have a quick look at this town. It's worth exploring. In the midst of these narrow lanes, you do run into the occasional little piazza, with the inevitable outdoor restaurant and fountain in the middle. The church of St. Francis is the oldest church in town. The choir and the cupola date from the 14th century, and the nave dates from 1528, so here we have a mix of the Gothic style and the early Renaissance. And next to the church is a former 13th-century Franciscan monastery. Now this church has got some Baroque side chapels and some very old fresco paintings that are barely visible on some of the walls. It's quite unusual to see such an old and Italian-style church in Switzerland. When you're in the north of Switzerland you just don't see this kind of architecture. Coming out of the church, heading back into the old lanes, you'll recognize that little piazza. The fountain surrounded by benches would make a good place to rest up. You probably realize that Locarno has got that small-town feeling. Its population is only 16,000 people, which ranks it 74th in Switzerland in city size. So it's really just a small town, smaller than nearby Lugano for example. And yet Locarno offers that full urban experience but on a human scale. Back on the Piazza Grande just , a couple blocks away there's some musical action and swing dancing happening at the outdoor restaurant. For thousands of years people have been living here. During the Roman era it's believed there was a small market center along the lake. And numerous buildings we see today are several centuries old and yet all in very good condition. With that typical Swiss efficiency of maintenance and modernizing the interiors. What better way to finish our in-depth visit than with some more delicious pasta. We have a big series of movies about Switzerland taking you to most of the great places. We will bring you to Lucerne and up to Mount Titlis, Mount Rigi, over to Interlaken, up to the Jungfrau. We will see the Shilthorn, Lauterbrunnen Valley, Trummelbach Falls, Grindelwald, Bern, then on to Zermatt, the Matterhorn, yes we will have a look at the Gornergrat, up the Sunnegga, do some hiking, show you the village then on down to Lugano and Locarno in the southern part of Switzerland, the Ticino we also take you to the great city of Zürich. Look for them in our Swiss collection.



Prehistoric Locarno

In 1934 in the vicinity of today's Via S. Jorio, a necropolis with 14 urn graves from the Early Bronze Age (about 14th century BC) were found. Some of the urns were directly buried, while others were placed in boxes of uncut stone. The urns contained, in addition to burned bones, bronze ornaments, which had some fire damage, including, bangles, hair pins with conical head and slightly thickened neck, rings and knives. Similar urns were also discovered in the district of S. Antonio, which was probably also a small cemetery. The ceramic and bronze objects date from the Canegrate culture (named after a large necropolis in the province of Milan). However, no traces of the settlement have been discovered.[5]

In 1935, a large necropolis was discovered at Solduno. The over 200 graves cover nearly a thousand years, from the La Tène culture to the 3rd century AD. Many of the La Tène era grave goods (particularly from the 3rd-1st century BC) are Celtic style Fibulae or brooches. These objects demonstrate a cultural influence from regions north of the Alps. However, the ceramic objects are indigenous to Golasecca culture which spread into Ticino and Lombardy.[5]

Roman era

Between 1946 and 1949, a number of Roman era tombs were discovered on the terrace between the churches of Santa Maria in Selva and San Giovanni Battista in Solduno. The Roman city that became Locarno was therefore between the vicus of Muralto and this cemetery. Unfortunately, intensive construction and agricultural activity have destroyed most traces of the ancient city. In 1995 and 1997, 57 graves were found in Via Valle Maggia. Nineteen were from the Roman period, which confirms that even in the 3rd century AD cremation and body burials were practiced side by side. Among other significant finds, a number of glass items were discovered. The Roman necropolis was used from the end of the prehistoric La Tène era until the middle of the 3rd century AD. The extensive Romanization of Locarno wiped out much of the local culture and replaced it with ancient Roman elements. However, it appears that there was no Roman ruling class which could have dominated the local population.[6]

Capitanei di Locarno

The capitanei were a group of prominent noble families who emerged in the early Middle Ages and led Locarno. The term is first mentioned in a document granting market rights to the town by the Emperor Frederick I in 1164. This title was originally reserved only the direct vassals of the king's fief. The lower vassals were known as valvassores, but could have been awarded the title of capitanei as a special concession. The original capitanei were probably descendants of the old Lombard noble family of Da Besozzo from the county of Seprio, a historic region of Lombard Italy which comprised areas in southern Ticino and modern day Italian provinces of Varese and Como on the western side of Lake Maggiore, and was centered in Castelseprio, some 20 kilometres south of Locarno.

Around 1000, the family was granted a fief in Locarno by the schismatic Bishop of Como Landolfo da Carcano. The capitanei were given the right to manage the property of the Church entrusted to the local pieve, they had the rights of immunity and coercion, but were not owners of the village cooperatives' (vicini) land, with the exception of the churches and royal estates. They did not have the right of high justice so their political power was limited. However, they played an important role in the later conflicts in the 13th and 14th century between the Guelphs and Ghibellines and in the wars between Como and the Duchy of Milan.

In Locarno, during the Reformation period in the 16th century, two of the three great feudal families of capitanei, the Muralto and the Orelli families, left the town and moved to Zürich. A branch of the Muraltos was established in Bern. The third great Locarno family, the Magoria, remained in Locarno. The capitanei retained a central role in Locarno's politics until 1798. In 1803, the lands and rights of the capitanei were integrated into the political municipality of Locarno.[7]

Early Locarno

Harbor of Locarno. Trade along the lake allowed Locarno to flourish
Harbor of Locarno. Trade along the lake allowed Locarno to flourish

Starting in the Lombard period (after 569), the area around Locarno (and presumably the town) was part of the county Stazzona and later the Mark of Lombardy. Locarno is first mentioned in 807 as Leocarni. In German, it came to be known as Luggarus, Lucarius, Lucaris.[8] It is likely that a market existed at or near the lake since the Roman era. The long history of the town and its location led to the creation of a royal court, which is first mentioned in 866. During the Middle Ages Locarno and Ascona formed a community, with several, separate neighborhoods. The community managed its common goods (alpine pastures, pastures, forests, churches) and tax officials and police.

In the 10th century, Bishop of Milan began to consolidate more and more power to himself at the expense of the Kings of the Germans. This expansion by Milan was countered by Henry II, who incorporated Locarno in 1002/04 with the surrounding areas into the Diocese of Como. Friedrich Barbarossa granted extensive market rights to Locarno in 1164 and granted imperial immediacy in 1186. Due to these privileges, Locarno developed substantial local autonomy, which assisted the development of municipal institutions. The nobles (Nobili) lost more and more rights to the citizens (borghesi). By 1224, the borghesi had their own administration and various privileges, including: market rights, the right to their own weights, maintenance of mills and grazing rights in Saleggi, in Colmanicchio (Alp Vignasca) and in the Magadino and Quartino valleys.[6]

Locarno was the administrative center of the parish of Locarno. The Podestà or high government official, resided in the Casa della Gallinazza, which was burned in 1260 during the clashes between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Several Locarno families, including members of the Capitanei di Locarno and Simone da Orello, played an important role in the battles between the two factions. In 1342, Luchino and Giovanni Visconti conquered the area, which brought Locarno back under the power of Milan. In 1439, Count Franchino Rusca was awarded Locarno as a fief.[6]

In 1291, a Humiliati monastery was first mentioned in Locarno. St. Catherine's church, attached to the monastery, probably dates to the mid-14th century.[9]

Under the Swiss Confederation

Swiss Confederation in 1530, showing Locarno and other territories of the Ticino region
Swiss Confederation in 1530, showing Locarno and other territories of the Ticino region

The rule of the Rusca ended 1503, when the Confederates occupied Locarno, but failed to conquer the Visconti castle. After the battle of Novara in 1513, the French King Louis XII gave the Confederates the castle. In the Treaty of Freiburg in 1516, they received all of Locarno. The Twelve Cantons took turns appointing a governor (Italian: commissario), to rule over Locarno. The governor had both civil and criminal jurisdiction, except in certain cases after 1578, where seven judges were elected by the locals to try the cases. On taking office, the Governor swore under oath to obey the statutes of Locarno. The Governor was supported by a local mayor, and criminal fines were usually given to local community.[6]

The rule of the Twelve Cantons also had an effect on the social and political relations of the town. In addition to the nobility (representing the three old noble families Orelli, Muralto and Magoria) and citizens, there was a third group. This third group, the terrieri, was a group of residents who had lived a long time in Locarno, but were not citizens. Each of the three groups were a statutory corporation, with shared property and a governing body. Under the Confederation, each of these groups or corporations had representation in the Consiglio Magnifico which ruled Locarno. However, the town's dominance over the villages in the region, until 1798, is clearly shown in their representation in the Council. The three groups in Locarno had twelve aldermen (six nobles, four citizens and two terrieri), while all the rural communities together had only eight members.[6]

During the Middle Ages, Locarno was centered around the intersection of Via Cittadella and Via S. Antonio. The town stretched up the slope of the mountain and behind the castle. Some houses lined the shore, and above the Contrada Borghese a small, almost rural settlement grew up. The center of town was dominated by town houses with their large courtyards and gardens. The members of the upper class also owned small country houses with vineyards, which went up the hill behind Locarno as well as in Solduno and Cugnasco. Locarno also had several noble estates during the Late Middle Ages, including the so-called Cittadella. The buildings of the 17th and 18th Centuries, including the Casa Simona (16th to 18th century), the Casa Rusca from the first half of the 18th century (now the seat of the municipal art gallery) and the Casa del Negromante, were built on older structures and didn't change the layout of the town.[6]

Locarno's Castles

Castello Visconteo
Castello Visconteo

There were several castles from the Early Middle Ages in Locarno. One was destroyed by the Milanese in 1156. Another, first mentioned in 1210 as Orelli castle, was occupied in 1342 occupied by the Visconti and enlarged. This castle came to be known as Visconti Castle. In 1531, the Confederates demolished much of the castle, leaving only the central core. The castle was used as the residence of the governor, but in the following centuries, it began to fall apart. From 1804 to 1909, the castle was the seat of the administrative governor and the District Court. After 1909, it came into the possession of the city and was renovated in 1921-28. Since 1920, it houses the city and Archaeological Museum. In 1507, a defensive bastion or ravelin was added to protect the castle entrance. It is likely that Leonardo da Vinci designed this structure.[4][6] North-east of the castle is Palazzo Casorella (Casa degli Orelli) from the 16th century.

Early Modern Locarno

Vineyards above Locarno
Vineyards above Locarno

During the Middle Ages, the economy of Locarno and the whole region was closely linked with the nobles who owned the market, fishing, alpine and grazing rights and tithes. Starting in the 13th century, some of these privileges went to the citizens corporation. The hill areas were dominated by viticulture, while grain was raised in the plains. Within the town, vegetables and fruits were grown. Artisans and stores were concentrated in the interior of the town. The repeatedly flooded shorelines and the alpine pastures were used for grazing. In the early modern period, Locarno developed into a thriving commercial center on an important road that linked the major cities of Lombardy, with German-speaking Switzerland and Germany. Cereals and salt came from the Lombardy and Piedmont to Locarno, while Locarno and its hinterland (especially the Maggia Valley) provided large quantities of wood and cattle to Italy.[6]

The parish church of Locarno, S. Antonio Abate, was first built in 1353-54. It was replaced by the current building in 1664. The decoration of the church was financed, primarily, by the grain traders at the end of the 17th century, and the chapel frescoes are by Giuseppe Antonio Felice Orelli from 1742. The citizens of Locarno had the right to appoint priests at S. Antonio Abate, S. Maria in Selva (consecrated in 1424, since 1884 only the choir and bell tower remain) and SS Trinità dei Monti (consecrated 1621). The church of San Francesco, together with the adjoining convent, were built in the early 13th century. The church's first consecration was probably in 1230, but the first documented consecration of the church was in 1316. It was rebuilt and enlarged between 1538-1675 using construction material from Visconti Castle. San Francesco hosted the meetings of the nobility and the citizens. Starting in the 16th century, the appointed Governor swore his oath in the church.[9]

In the 16th century, the Humiliati order was suppressed and St. Catherine's church and monastery closed. All three ruling groups of Locarno agreed to convert the church and monastery into the Hospital S. Carlo. The Hospital remained until 1854 when it closed, due to financial reasons.[9]

In the 16th century, Locarno's population declined as a result of exodus of Protestants and the plague in 1576-77. After a recovery in the 17th century, the population declined considerably in the 18th century again.

Protestant Reformation

By 1535, there was a Protestant community known as the ecclesia christiana locarnensis in Locarno. They owed their existence to the work of Giovanni Beccaria, several notables of the town (including Taddeo Duni) and religious refugees from Milan and Piedmont. To counteract the tensions, the Protestant community and the Catholic clergy met for a debate on 8 May 1549. At the end of the debate, Beccaria was imprisoned. However, because of protests against his arrest, he was immediately released. In 1550, Locarno declared itself to be a Catholic town, but a large group continued to practice the Protestant faith. However, in 1554, the Diet of Baden issued an ultimatum to the Protestants, either renounce new faith or go into exile. On 3 March 1555, over 100 people left Locarno to emigrate to Zürich.[9]

In the course of Counter-Reformation in the 17th century, many religious buildings in Locarno were renewed or rebuilt. These include the 1604 church dedicated to SS Sebastiano e Rocco with the Capuchin monastery and the church of S. Maria Assunta (Chiesa Nuova).[9]

The Canton of Ticino

Under the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) Locarno was part of the Canton of Lugano. Following the collapse of the Helvetic Republic, the Act of Mediation, in 1803, created the Canton of Ticino with Locarno as an independent municipality. The Helvetic Republic was very liberal and attempted to reform much of Swiss society. However, the changes were too great and the Republic collapsed. The compromise Act of Mediation changed some aspects of society but left others unchanged. The new municipality of Lucarno was no longer ruled by three different patriziati, which had emerged from the three groups (nobles, borghesi and terrieri), but until the mid-19th century there were institutions that reached back to the Ancien Régime. For example, the community of Locarno and Ascona was dissolved in 1805. Nevertheless, a "committee of the representatives of the former communities of Locarno" managed, for several decades, the S. Carlo Hospital and schools, which had been shared by the patriziati of the old, combined community. However, the power of the old patriziati gradually weakened. In 1859, the terrieri decided to set aside their corporation. The nobles corporation distributed its assets in 1866-67 to its members and dissolved the archive, but retained until about 1920, the fishing rights. Only the citizens corporation has preserved its status as a civil community.[10]

Piazza Grande
Piazza Grande

The Constitution of 1814, established Locarno, Bellinzona and Lugano as the capitals of the canton, in a six-year rotation. Locarno was the capital of the canton in 1821-27, 1839–45, 1857–63 and 1875-81. In 1838-39, on the initiative of a group of notables, a government building was built. It was sold in 1893 to private company. It then became the headquarters of Credito Ticinese and since 1917 it has been the headquarters of the Electricity Company of Sopraceneri. Locarno was repeatedly the scene of political clashes. In 1839 and 1841, uprisings against the government broke out. In 1855, a murder in a coffee house was used as a pretext for a coup of radicals (pronunciamento). Another coup, the Ticino coup of 1890, did nothing to change the balance of power between the parties in the city. After a liberal mayor ruled for 35 consecutive years (1865–80), a conservative mayor ruled for another 36 years (1880–1916).[10]

To break the conservative hegemony of the late 19th century, the Social Democrats, allied with the Liberals in 1916 elections. They succeeded to a majority in the city government (which then consisted of nine members, but in 1987 was limited to seven), which they kept in the following decades.[10]

In the 19th century, the population in Locarno grew noticeably compared to neighboring communities. As early as 1836, the immigrant population was over 16% of the population. Between 1860-80, the population fell slightly mainly because of emigration to California. In the following decades, the growth rates were below those of other population centers of the canton, which, unlike Locarno, benefited directly from the Gotthard railway.

In 1816, the special rights and title of the old mother church of San Vittore in Muralto went over to S. Antonio Abate. In 1863, snow collecting on the roof of the church caused the vault to collapse, killing 40 people. The citizens collective or borghesi lacked the resources to repair the church. Therefore, in 1866, the ownership and maintenance of the churches of S. Antonio and S. Maria in Selva were given to the town as a whole. For financial reasons, the collapsed church was not completely repaired. Only the façade and central vault were rebuilt and the choir was expanded.[9]

Between 1863-74, church of San Francesco had to be used for services, and after 1798, the Assemblies of the neighborhoods, the city and the county were held in the church. In 1814, the church of San Francesco was secularized and the Franciscans had to leave. The church and convent served from 1821 until 1827 as the State Government offices. From 1848-63, the church was closed for worship, and in 1874 it was converted into a barracks and a salt storage. In 1924, it was converted back into a church and used by Benedictines for Catholic services delivered in the German language. The Jesuits took over this task from 1947 until 1992. The monastery was secularized in 1848, and after the 1893-94 renovation, it housed the first high school. Then in 1930 it was used for teacher training.

Modern Locarno

Between 1935-92, the newspaper, L'Eco di Locarno was printed in Locarno. In 1992, it merged with the official newspaper of the Liberal party Il dovere to create the daily newspaper La Regione. Since 1987, the only German language newspaper in Ticino, the Tessiner Zeitung, is published three times each week in Locarno.



Locarno has an area, as of 1997, of 19.27 square kilometers (7.44 sq mi). Of this area, 8.39 km2 (3.24 sq mi) or 43.5% is used for agricultural purposes, while 5.97 km2 (2.31 sq mi) or 31.0% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 4.92 km2 (1.90 sq mi) or 25.5% is settled (buildings or roads), 1.25 km2 (0.48 sq mi) or 6.5% is either rivers or lakes and 0.91 km2 (0.35 sq mi) or 4.7% is unproductive land.

Of the built up area, industrial buildings made up 1.4% of the total area while housing and buildings made up 10.3% and transportation infrastructure made up 7.6%. Power and water infrastructure as well as other special developed areas made up 2.6% of the area while parks, green belts and sports fields made up 3.6%. Out of the forested land, 28.3% of the total land area is heavily forested and 2.7% is covered with orchards or small clusters of trees. Of the agricultural land, 31.2% is used for growing crops, while 2.1% is used for orchards or vine crops and 10.3% is used for alpine pastures. Of the water in the municipality, 0.8% is in lakes and 5.7% is in rivers and streams. Of the unproductive areas, 4.6% is unproductive vegetation.[11]

The municipality is the capital of its district. Locarno is located on the left shore of Lake Maggiore. The city is made up of the old town (historic settlement center), the new town (Nuovo quartiere) toward the lake and the land district (quartiere Campagna) toward Solduno. The area of the municipality extends from the lake (elevation 209 m (686 ft)) to the mountains above the city (Monti della SS Trinità, Bre, Cardada and Cimetta, highest point at 1,474 m (4,836 ft)). It includes a large part of the Magadino valley along with the right side of the Ticino river, and stretches from the Bolle di Magadino to Monda Contone.


Locarno averages 103 days of precipitation per year and on average receives 1,668 mm (65.7 in) of precipitation. The wettest month is May during which time Locarno receives an average of 194 mm (7.6 in) of precipitation. During this month there are 12.8 days with measurable precipitation. The driest month of the year is December with an average of 61 mm (2.4 in) of precipitation over 5.7 days. Locarno averages 2155 hours of sunshine or 56% of possible sunshine.[12] The Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as on the border between temperate oceanic (Cfb) and humid subtropical (Cfa)[13]

Climate data for Locarno/Monti (367 m a.s.l., Reference period 1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.4
Average low °C (°F) 0.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 71
Average snowfall cm (inches) 18.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 4.9 4.5 5.9 10.1 12.4 10.2 8.5 9.9 8.9 9.2 8.3 6.5 99.3
Average snowy days (≥ 1.0 cm) 2.1 1.8 0.6 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 2.2 7.4
Average relative humidity (%) 65 61 55 60 66 64 62 66 70 75 70 67 65
Mean monthly sunshine hours 135 149 196 184 192 229 259 245 194 151 118 119 2,171
Percent possible sunshine 61 60 59 49 47 57 63 62 56 52 52 57 56
Source: MeteoSwiss[12]

Coat of arms

The blazon of the municipal coat of arms is Azure a lion rampant argent.[14]


Old city of Locarno
Old city of Locarno

Locarno has a population (as of December 2017) of 16,012.[2] As of 2008, 33.9% of the population are resident foreign nationals.[15] Over the last 10 years (1997–2007) the population has changed at a rate of 3.7%.

Most of the population (as of 2000) speaks Italian (76.6%), with German being second most common (10.5%) and Serbo-Croatian being third (3.1%).[16] Of the Swiss national languages (as of 2000), 1,528 speak German, 189 people speak French, 11,153 people speak Italian, and 27 people speak Romansh. The remainder (1,664 people) speak another language.[17]

As of 2008, the gender distribution of the population was 46.5% male and 53.5% female. The population was made up of 4,421 Swiss men (29.1% of the population), and 2,636 (17.4%) non-Swiss men. There were 5,654 Swiss women (37.2%), and 2,474 (16.3%) non-Swiss women.[18]

In 2008 there were 83 live births to Swiss citizens and 45 births to non-Swiss citizens, and in same time span there were 115 deaths of Swiss citizens and 33 non-Swiss citizen deaths. Ignoring immigration and emigration, the population of Swiss citizens decreased by 32 while the foreign population increased by 12. There were 14 Swiss men and 3 Swiss women who immigrated back to Switzerland. At the same time, there were 87 non-Swiss men and 78 non-Swiss women who immigrated from another country to Switzerland. The total Swiss population change in 2008 (from all sources, including moves across municipal borders) was an increase of 159 and the non-Swiss population change was an increase of 55 people. This represents a population growth rate of 1.4%.[15]

The age distribution, as of 2009, in Locarno is; 1,205 children or 7.9% of the population are between 0 and 9 years old and 1,454 teenagers or 9.6% are between 10 and 19. Of the adult population, 1,791 people or 11.8% of the population are between 20 and 29 years old. 2,002 people or 13.2% are between 30 and 39, 2,442 people or 16.1% are between 40 and 49, and 1,979 people or 13.0% are between 50 and 59. The senior population distribution is 1,767 people or 11.6% of the population are between 60 and 69 years old, 1,541 people or 10.1% are between 70 and 79, there are 1,004 people or 6.6% who are over 80.[18]

As of 2000, there were 6,730 private households in the municipality, and an average of 2.1 persons per household.[19] In 2000 there were 904 single family homes (or 42.1% of the total) out of a total of 2,147 inhabited buildings. There were 252 two family buildings (11.7%) and 480 multi-family buildings (22.4%). There were also 511 buildings in the municipality that were multipurpose buildings (used for both housing and commercial or another purpose).[20]

The vacancy rate for the municipality, in 2008, was 0.63%. In 2000 there were 8,647 apartments in the municipality. The most common apartment size was the 3 room apartment of which there were 3,068. There were 856 single room apartments and 877 apartments with five or more rooms.[21] Of these apartments, a total of 6,709 apartments (77.6% of the total) were permanently occupied, while 1,695 apartments (19.6%) were seasonally occupied and 243 apartments (2.8%) were empty.[21] As of 2007, the construction rate of new housing units was 10.5 new units per 1000 residents.[19]

As of 2003 the average price to rent an average apartment in Locarno was 1046.19 Swiss francs (CHF) per month (US$840, £470, €670 approx. exchange rate from 2003). The average rate for a one-room apartment was 611.61 CHF (US$490, £280, €390), a two-room apartment was about 816.64 CHF (US$650, £370, €520), a three-room apartment was about 1007.47 CHF (US$810, £450, €640) and a six or more room apartment cost an average of 1896.51 CHF (US$1520, £850, €1210). The average apartment price in Locarno was 93.7% of the national average of 1116 CHF.[22]

Historic Population

The historical population is given in the following table:[8]

Year Population Italian speaking German speaking Catholic Protestant Other Swiss Non-Swiss
Total Other Jewish Islamic No religion given
1591 3,725
1597 3,029
1719 3,515
1769 1,751
1795 1,471
1801 1,308
1824 1,463
1836 1,572
1850 2,944 0 0 2,938 6 0 0 0 0 2,425 519
1870 2,885 0 0 2,903 1 0 0 0 0 2,318 603
1888 3,430 3,375 37 3,399 22 18 0 0 0 2,664 766
1900 3,981 3,825 107 3,893 59 49 1 0 0 2,513 1,468
1910 5,486 5,117 278 5,177 178 91 3 0 0 3,104 2,382
1930 6,575 5,570 883 5,846 566 122 8 0 0 4,464 2,111
1950 7,767 6,428 1,090 6,887 751 249 9 0 0 5,980 1,787
1970 14,143 11,408 2,000 12,491 1,387 735 32 8 139 9,603 4,540
1990 13,796 10,817 1,604 11,108 1,310 1,375 7 129 728 9,440 4,356
2000 14,561 11,153 1,528 10,179 1,072 1,880 15 200 1,167 9,430 5,131

Heritage sites of national significance

There are nine Swiss heritage site of national significance in Locarno. Three of the sites are churches; the church of S. Francesco and former convent, the church of S. Maria Assunta (new church) and house of the canons and the church of S. Maria in Selva with Cemetery. The Castello Visconteo complex (part of which may have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci[4]) is on the list. Two schools, the Ai Saleggi primary school and the Secondary School at via Dr. G. Varesi 30, as well as the Cantonal Library are also listed. The last two are the Pinacoteca comunale Casa Rusca at piazza Sant’Antonio and the Casorella at Via Bartolomeo Rusca 5 make up the rest of the list. The entire city of Locarno is listed on the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites[23]

Main sights

Madonna del Sasso.
Madonna del Sasso.

Locarno has a number of interesting sights that draw tourists year-round.

Astrovia Locarno

The Astrovia Locarno is a 1 : 1,000,000,000 scale model of the Solar System. The Sun can be found at the end of Via Gioacchino Respini where the cycle path, which runs alongside the river Maggia, starts. Pluto, the final planet in the model, can be found 6 kilometres (4 miles) away from this starting point in the village of Tegna.

Madonna del Sasso, Cardada and Cimetta

The sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso in Orselina above the city is the principal sight and goal of pilgrimage in the city.

The founding of the sanctuary goes back to a vision of the Virgin Mary that the Franciscan brother Bartolomeo d'Ivrea experienced in the night of 14/15 August 1480. The interior is highly decorated, and a platform has views of the city.

The Locarno–Madonna del Sasso funicular links Locarno city centre with the Madonna del Sasso sanctuary and Orselina. From Orselina, a cable car operates to the top of Cardada (el. 1,340 m (4,400 ft)), and a chair lift goes further to the top of Cimetta (el. 1,671 m (5,482 ft)).

Castello Visconteo

Castello Visconteo, on the edge of the old town, was built in the 12th century, probably as the residence of a Captain Orelli, who remained true to the Emperor. In 1260, it fell into the hands of the Ghibellines. In 1342 the Visconti of Milan, for whom it is now named, attacked the castle from both the land and the lake side and took it. It first came into the hands of the Eidgenossen in 1503. Today, only a fifth of the original structure remains. Most of that dates from the 15th and 16th centuries. Only the foundation remains from the original structure.


In the 2007 federal election the most popular party was the FDP which received 34.88% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the SP (19.72%), the CVP (18.75%) and the Ticino League (9.54%). In the federal election, a total of 3,303 votes were cast, and the voter turnout was 40.5%.[24]

In the 2007 Gran Consiglio election, there were a total of 8,555 registered voters in Locarno, of which 4,291 or 50.2% voted. 90 blank ballots and 15 null ballots were cast, leaving 4,186 valid ballots in the election. The most popular party was the PLRT which received 913 or 21.8% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were; the SSI (with 822 or 19.6%), the PS (with 790 or 18.9%) and the PPD+GenGiova (with 703 or 16.8%).[25]

In the 2007 Consiglio di Stato election, 66 blank ballots and 23 null ballots were cast, leaving 4,202 valid ballots in the election. The most popular party was the PS which received 946 or 22.5% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were; the PLRT (with 837 or 19.9%), the SSI (with 768 or 18.3%) and the PPD (with 714 or 17.0%).[25]


Office building in Locarno
Office building in Locarno

As of  2007, Locarno had an unemployment rate of 5.93%. As of 2005, there were 86 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 23 businesses involved in this sector. 2,385 people were employed in the secondary sector and there were 158 businesses in this sector. 7,338 people were employed in the tertiary sector, with 920 businesses in this sector.[19] There were 6,688 residents of the municipality who were employed in some capacity, of which females made up 46.6% of the workforce.

In 2000, there were 7,550 workers who commuted into the municipality and 2,864 workers who commuted away. The municipality is a net importer of workers, with about 2.6 workers entering the municipality for every one leaving. About 12.1% of the workforce coming into Locarno are coming from outside Switzerland, while none of the locals counted in the census, commute out of Switzerland for work.[26] Of the working population, 10.5% used public transportation to get to work, and 44.1% used a private car.[19]

As of 2009, there were 30 hotels in Locarno with a total of 777 rooms and 1,536 beds.[27]


Church of S. Antonio Abate
Church of S. Antonio Abate

From the 2000 census, 10,179 or 69.9% were Roman Catholic, while 1,072 or 7.4% belonged to the Swiss Reformed Church. There are 2,307 individuals (or about 15.84% of the population) who belong to another church (not listed on the census), and 1,003 individuals (or about 6.89% of the population) did not answer the question.[17]


In Locarno about 57.1% of the population (between age 25-64) have completed either non-mandatory upper secondary education or additional higher education (either university or a Fachhochschule).[19]

In Locarno there were a total of 2,210 students (as of 2009). The Ticino education system provides up to three years of non-mandatory kindergarten and in Locarno there were 292 children in kindergarten. The primary school program lasts for five years and includes both a standard school and a special school. In the village, 648 students attended the standard primary schools and 65 students attended the special school. In the lower secondary school system, students either attend a two-year middle school followed by a two-year pre-apprenticeship or they attend a four-year program to prepare for higher education. There were 512 students in the two-year middle school and 10 in their pre-apprenticeship, while 203 students were in the four-year advanced program.

The upper secondary school includes several options, but at the end of the upper secondary program, a student will be prepared to enter a trade or to continue on to a university or college. In Ticino, vocational students may either attend school while working on their internship or apprenticeship (which takes three or four years) or may attend school followed by an internship or apprenticeship (which takes one year as a full-time student or one and a half to two years as a part-time student).[28] There were 146 vocational students who were attending school full-time and 293 who attend part-time.

The professional program lasts three years and prepares a student for a job in engineering, nursing, computer science, business, tourism and similar fields. There were 41 students in the professional program.[29]

As of 2000, there were 1,484 students in Locarno who came from another municipality, while 405 residents attended schools outside the municipality.[26]

Locarno is home to the Biblioteca Cantonale Locarno library. The library has (as of 2008) 122,115 books or other media, and loaned out 97,667 items in the same year. It was open a total of 264 days with average of 44 hours per week during that year.[30]



Locarno is served by the Locarno Airport, a mixed civilian and military airport.


In 2014 the crime rate, of the over 200 crimes listed in the Swiss Criminal Code (running from murder, robbery and assault to accepting bribes and election fraud), in Locarno was 77.9 per thousand residents, which was slightly higher than the national average (64.6). During the same period, the rate of drug crimes was 27.2 per thousand residents. This rate is 138.6% greater than the rate in the district, 209.1% greater than the cantonal rate and 174.7% greater than the national rate. The rate of violations of immigration, visa and work permit laws was 2.6 per thousand residents. This rate is lower than average, only 72.2% of the rate in the canton and only 53.1% of the rate for the entire country.[31]


Locarno has a football team, FC Locarno. As of the 2012-2013 season they play in the Swiss Challenge League, the 2nd tier of the Swiss football league system.

International relations

Locarno is twinned with:

See also


  1. ^ Arealstatistik Standard - Gemeindedaten nach 4 Hauptbereichen
  2. ^ a b Swiss Federal Statistical Office - STAT-TAB, online database – Ständige und nichtständige Wohnbevölkerung nach institutionellen Gliederungen, Geburtsort und Staatsangehörigkeit (in German) accessed 17 September 2018
  3. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office (2015). "Bilanz der ständigen Wohnbevölkerung (Total) nach Bezirken und Gemeinden" (XLS) (in German and French). Wabern, Switzerland. Retrieved 2016-10-09.
  4. ^ a b c Gehring, Françoise (11 August 2006). "Locarno gets its own da Vinci mystery". Locarno, Switzerland: SSR SRG. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  5. ^ a b Locarno - Prehistory in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Locarno - Roman Era to Early Modern Era in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  7. ^ Capitanei di Locarno in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  8. ^ a b Locarno in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Locarno - Religious Life in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  10. ^ a b c Locarno - 19th and 20th Centuries in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  11. ^ Altitudine, superficie, secondo il genere di utilizzazione, rilevazione 1992/1997, e densità della popolazione, nel 2000 Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (in Italian) accessed 25 October 2010
  12. ^ a b "Climate Normals Locarno/Monti, Reference period 1981−2010" (PDF). Zürich-Airport, Switzerland: Swiss Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology - MeteoSwiss. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 2016-10-04.
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Flags of the accessed 3 December 2010
  15. ^ a b Swiss Federal Statistical Office - Superweb database - Gemeinde Statistics 1981-2008 Archived 28 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine. (in German) accessed 19 June 2010
  16. ^ STAT-TAB Datenwürfel für Thema 40.3 - 2000 Archived 9 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine. (in German) accessed 5 March 2014
  17. ^ a b Popolazione residente, secondo la lingua principale e la religione, nel 2000 Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (in Italian) accessed 23 November 2010
  18. ^ a b 01.02.03 Popolazione residente permanente Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (in Italian) accessed 23 November 2010
  19. ^ a b c d e Swiss Federal Statistical Office Archived 5 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine. accessed 3 December 2010
  20. ^ 09.02.01 Edifici Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (in Italian) accessed 23 November 2010
  21. ^ a b 09.02.02 Abitazioni Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (in Italian) accessed 23 November 2010
  22. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office-Rental prices 2003 data (in German) accessed 26 May 2010
  23. ^ "Kantonsliste A-Objekte:Ticino". KGS Inventar (in German). Federal Office of Civil Protection. 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  24. ^ "Nationalratswahlen 2007: Stärke der Parteien nach Gemeinden" [National council elections 2007: strength of the parties and voter turnout by municipality] (in German). Swiss Federal Statistical Office. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  25. ^ a b Elezioni cantonali: Gran Consiglio, Consiglio di Stato Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (in Italian) accessed 23 November 2010
  26. ^ a b Swiss Federal Statistical Office - Statweb Archived 4 August 2012 at (in German) accessed 24 June 2010
  27. ^ Settori alberghiero e paralberghiero Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (in Italian) accessed 23 November 2010
  29. ^ Allievi e studenti, secondo il genere di scuola, anno scolastico 2009/2010 Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (in Italian) accessed 23 November 2010
  30. ^ Swiss Federal Statistical Office, list of libraries (in German) accessed 14 May 2010
  31. ^ Statistical Atlas of Switzerland accessed 5 April 2016
  32. ^ "Our Sister Cities". City of Lompoc. Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  33. ^ "Association Suisse des Communes et Régions d'Europe". L'Association suisse pour le Conseil des Communes et Régions d'Europe (ASCCRE) (in French). Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-20.

External links

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