At my home in Graubünden, it snowed 40 cm this morning. I’m about to experience a change of scenery. I’m heading south, where I’ll find palm trees, a lake, sunshine, ice cream, pizza and some beautiful granite rocks, which are great for climbing. Winter vibes to sunny climes – welcome to Ticino! La dolce vita – how we’ve missed you!
We’re off to Locarno where we can climb outdoors again at last. My climbing friend and I have been improving our techniques in the indoor climbing centre every week over the past few months and we are really looking forward to our two-day trip to Ticino. The journey begins on Saturday evening. After less than two hours, we arrive at the Locarno Youth Hostel, right in the centre of the city, where we meet other climbing enthusiasts for dinner. We talk about the climbing hotspots and look forward to the next day.
The treasure hunt for the best climbing spot begins!
The alarm clock goes off at 7.30 a.m. I throw open the curtains and feel the sun shining on my face. I look at the palm trees in the garden rocking back and forth in the wind. I’m feeling in a great holiday mood. On the balcony, I study our programme for the day before we have breakfast, which should fortify us for today’s excursion.
We’re both a little nervous about being out again for the first time – normally climbing on rocks is more challenging than in an indoor climbing centre. In addition, you need a lot more equipment and finding a good climbing spot is the first challenge you have to master. The area boasts many rock faces – the best-known place is not far from the youth hostel, near the Ponte Brolla, in the Maggia Valley. This spot is also accessible by bicycle, which are easy to rent in the region.
Since this spot is quite well known, we are not the only ones looking for adventure on this beautiful spring day. We try out two rock faces, which we find in our climbing guide. Finding a suitable climbing spot is a bit like hunting for treasure. You have to try out a lot until you find your personal favourite, which you usually don’t give away to anyone else – only to very close friends, perhaps. So you really have to put in a lot of effort to find a great rock face.
Best pizza in town – a MUST-try experience!
On the first day, we climb five different routes and then set off to enjoy Locarno a little more. It’s only a few minutes’ walk from the youth hostel to the centre. Wearing summery outfits, we buy our first ice cream of 2023 and sit down on the shore of Lake Maggiore. I can’t believe there’s so much snow at home and here it feels like a typical summer evening.
After the sun goes down, we enjoy a drink on the promenade and then a pizza. Actually, any other pizzeria in Ticino wouldn’t be worth mentioning. But anyone who loves pizza also knows the difference between a normal pizza and a Neapolitan one. At Restaurant Napulé, we both eat the best pizza we have ever eaten in Switzerland. Thin but the edge is nice and airy – it just tastes amazingly good! Of course, the food is always excellent at the youth hostel, but I recommend this pizza highlight to all pizza lovers.
When the weather changes your plans…
On the second day we walk through the woods above Locarno until we reach today’s climbing spot. The weather is no longer so friendly; it is windy and much colder. After completing a few routes with beautiful views, we finish the climbing session a little earlier than planned – actually the “Cascata del Salto” waterfall on the River Maggia would have been on the itinerary – including a short swim in the river. But as the wind has been blowing quite strongly around our ears as we’ve been climbing, we head straight to Ascona and round off our two days by the lake with a delicious burrata with tomatoes. After that, it’s time to head home. Next time we come, we’re definitely going to explore the waterfall.
Even more Ticino
If you need more inspiration for your trip to Ticino, Nina can help. She was in the sunny region of Switzerland for a short trip.
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