Portraits of Ticino: An Unexpected Delight in Switzerland

A visual travel guide to summer in Ticino, Switzerland's lesser-known Italian canton.
Chelsea Papa
Experience Creator

Ticino, Switzerland's Italian-speaking canton, has been long overshadowed by popular European destinations nearby such as Lake Como and Interlaken. That might just change soon as modern travelers look to skip over established vacation destinations in favor of less touristed ones. The mix of small lakeside towns, mountains, and UNESCO World Heritage castles makes Ticino an alluring destination for all types of travelers from nature enthusiasts and families to beach bums and adrenaline junkies.

Ascona Switzerland
Ascona, Switzerland

My top three experiences in Ticino were exploring Bellinzona's grand, historic castles, wading in the cool waters of Valle Verzasca against the scenic mountainous backdrop, and savoring a traditional luganighetta sausage and risotto meal at a cave-like "grotto" restaurant tucked into the mountainside of Vallemaggia. I may have guilted my boyfriend into splitting it with me when he had no interest in the mushroom polenta I ordered ;) An honorable mention goes to Lido Ascona, where we lounged on beach towels with our Kindles in between refreshing dips in Lago Maggiore.

At first, I felt less than enthusiastic about adding four days in Ticino to my summer travel itinerary because it meant I had to sacrifice days spent by the Mediterranean. The only reason I chose to travel here was because I have relatives in the area. I thought this was a good opportunity to visit relatives and travel to a new place in a notoriously expensive country without over-stretching my modest budget.

By the end of my time in Ticino, it became one of the unexpected highlights of my European adventure. It perfectly blends the charm of Italy with the efficiency and distinctive rugged landscape of Switzerland. With that, this photo journal of my favorite sights and experiences in Ticino is here to inspire your travels to this overlooked but breathtaking region.

Town of Ascona.
View from Lido Ascona.
Valle Verzasca, one of the few destinations in Ticino that draws a larger, int'l crowd.
The "most famous" bungee jump in the world.
Summer Festival in Lacarno, Switzerland.
Vallemaggia— "magic valley."
Luganighetta sausage and risotto, a regional specialty.

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