Sunday, September 6, 2015

Locarno and Ascona, Switzerland

Switzerland is a small country of eight million people. Combining the states of New Hampshire and Vermont equals the size of Switzerland. That said, this amazing country has three official languages: German, French and Italian. The central and northern part of the country speaks German, the southern portion French and the eastern region Italian. Locarno lies in the Italian area. The photo above shows the main square in Locarno, population 15,000. In August the famous Locarno International Film Festival takes place here--with films being screened outside in this big square.
Hugging the shores of Lake Maggiore and adjacent to Locarno, lies the upscale town of Ascona (population 5,000).
 Ascona is a magnet for tourists.
 Huge villas hug the shoreline.
 This is Visconteo Castle in the old town part of Locarno.
 Visconteo Castle dates back to the 12th century.
You can see the steep hillsides behind Visconteo Castle--which are fantastic for cycling. The castle is rumored to have been designed by Leonardo Da Vinci.
One day I decide to find the source of a river emptying into Lake Maggiore and cycle 15 miles up this very steep valley. This is looking back toward Lake Maggiore and Locarno--can't see neither between the narrow gap.
Passed through this mountain village. Cycling in Italy I would quite frequently see this sight---people hanging bird cages outside so their finches, parrots--whatever-- get some fresh air and scenery. See the hanging cage? So, I stop and serenade the red parrot with my whistling. Normally bird(s) are intrigued by my magnificent sounds but this one doesn't budge an inch. On closer inspection I find the parrot to be fake. What an idiot! Thankfully there were no witnesses.
 There's a lakefront road around the lake but, it's more fun and challenging to cycle way above.
Steep hillside villages hug the lake and traversing villages via zig-zagging roads is fun and a great workout.
 The lakefront town of Brissago is home to Dannemann, a famous manufacture of cigars.
The factory still manufactures the smelly product but, I'm impressed by its the prized shoreline location.
The cigar manufacturer does a side business of renting out its prime location as a venue for weddings and corporate events. I can only imagine developers drooling over the prospect of this property coming on the market. Property in Switzerland is very expensive to begin with but, the price of this piece would go through the roof.
 I've mention before my fascination with visiting cemeteries. This is Locarno's main cemetery.
 Family tombs (up above) take prime positions.
Just looking at one I see names and dates going back to the early 1800's. So, my message to you is: get out there and enjoy life!!!

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