Introduction to Central Switzerland
In previous posts, we have talked about Western Switzerland, Northern Switzerland and the Bernese regions of Switzerland. In this post, I will review the area known as Central Switzerland, which includes the Ticino region. This area lies just south of the Northern Switzerland Region and Zurich, and east of the Bernese, Oberland, Mittelland and Valais Region. It extends south to the border with Italy, and more specifically to the Italian Lake Region, made up of Lake Maggiore, Lake Como and Lake Lugano.
As you can imagine, the primary language spoken in the southern part of this region is Italian. In the northern part of this region, including Lucerne, the primary language spoken is Swiss German.
In this post, I will highlight the 6 main areas to visit in this region, starting with Lucern in the north and working south to Lake Lugano.
The Town of Lucerne (spelled Luzern in German) is located on the western shores of Lake Lucern. It is about an hour from Zurich, either by car or train.
The town was initially established in there early 1200s when the Gotthard Pass was originally established. The town is probably best known for the Chapel Bridge shown in this picture, over the River Ruess. Also shown in this picture is the Jesuit Church of Lucerne, built in the 1600s.
Places to see in Lucerne include several churches, the art and natural history museums, the Lion Monument which was carved into a sandstone cliff, and the town hall (Rathaus).
Just south of Lucerne, on the southwestern shore of Lake Lucerne is Mount Pilatus. The mountain reaches an altitude of 7,000 feet. Legend has it that the mountain is home to a dragon, and is haunted by the ghost of Pontius Pilate.
You can reach the summit by hiking, gondola cog train, or cable car. At the summit, visitors can hike more trails enjoy a rope park, or even go paragliding. At the top, there are also two hotels and several restaurants.
Located just east of Lucerne, in the town of Einsiedeln, is the Benedictine abbey. Kloster Einsiedeln. It was completed in 1735, but its origins begin in the year 835 with a monk by the name of Meinrad.
At Christmastime, a Christmas Market is set up in the abbey square, and it is reputed to be one of the country’s largest Christmas markets.
Located on the northern shores of Lake Maggiore, Locarno is the entrance to the Italian part of Switzerland. This is further indicated by the presence of palm trees, and the Italian names of the churches and castles in the town, including Chiesa San Francesco and the Castello Visconteo. The town came under Swiss control in 1512, and was later named the capital of the Canton of Ticino for most of the 1800s. Locarno is now a resort town, best known for its Mediterranean climate.
Just east of Locarno, in an Alpine pass, is the town of Bellinzona. This location was first established by the Romans because of its strategic location.
The castle shown in this image is the Castelgrande, and is the oldest and largest of three castles established in the town. The Castelgrande was built in the 12th century, on top of a Roman fortress. The other two castles in the town are the Castello di Montebello and the Castello di Sasso Corbaro.
This is the southernmost point of Switzerland, and part of the lake is in Italy, and the town of Lugano lies at the base of Mount Brè.
Given that this area was disputed until the Swiss-Italian border was established in 1752, the town has a definite Italian influence. Visitors here can not only visit the town, and the Parco Ciani, but can easily make their way to Lake Como.
Getting There and Getting Around
Perhaps the simplest and most convenient way to see all of these locations is by train, starting from Zurich. Some of these locations, Lucern and Pilatus in particular are often included in various escorted tours and river cruise post-cruise packages.
Ready to Go?
Contact me to plan your trip to this region.