The Ceneri Base Tunnel in Ticino

Photo Credit © AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd.

The opening of the new Ceneri Base Tunnel just made travel around Ticino so much easier.  The Ceneri Base Tunnel is over 15 km making it the fifth-longest railway tunnel in Switzerland. Now one can see the sights of beautiful Ticino with greater ease than ever. We were delighted to be part of an adventure with Ticino Turismo in showcasing the new Ceneri Base Tunnel.

With the opening of the new Ceneri Tunnel it’s easy to whiz from location to location. Lugano to Bellinzona is less than 20 minutes and Locarno to Lugano is under 30 minutes.

Last weekend we had the opportunity to travel around Ticino and see how easy it is to get around. Happily, we were surprised to see the train connections were frequent and the time between arrivals was shortened.

We started our day leaving from the Lugano station heading to Bellinzona. The train ride with the new tunnel is now less than 20 minutes, 19 minutes, to be exact. It seemed that we arrived in Bellinzona in no time and we decided to avail ourselves of the rental bicycles available at the station. 

Renting the bikes at the station was a first for us. It was ideal though, as we were able to pick up the bikes at the station in Bellinzona and drop them off at the station in Locarno. There is a marked pathway leading from Bellinzona to Locarno. The bike path is wide and flat and scenic, passing through farmland, over bridges and along the river. 

About 10 km into our bike ride we stopped at a local Grotto Pian Marnino for lunch. The Grotto proved to be the perfect pit stop along the way. Most of those dining there were touring on their bicycles, as we were.  We enjoyed some Ticinese dishes, from risotto to cured meat plates. The Grotto boasts a lovely pastoral setting and specializes in local cuisine.

A delicious lunch gave us energy to continue our adventure as we then completed the last leg of our bike ride to Locarno. We have visited Locarno many times before but never by way of the bike path. Pedaling through the little scattering of villages along the water with their idyllic settings was memorable for us. 

On arrival in Locarno we quickly and easily dropped our bikes at the station and made our way on foot to the funicular to take us up the Funicolare Locarno-Madonna del Sasso. From there we hopped on a funivia and we were whisked up to the top of Cardada to soak in some breathtaking views of the Locarno valley and Lago Maggiore. You can easily spend hours hiking, dining and playing on top of Cardada. 

We have been trying to collect photos of each of the “Swing The World” swings placed in Ticino and we were happy to check off swing #6 on our list that sits at the top of this mountain. The vista is gorgeous and enjoying it from a swing is novel and  breathtaking. The panoramic view from the top of  Cardada is unforgettable and on a clear day you can see Monte Rosa.

After enjoying an eventful day around Ticino it was time to head home. Locarno to Lugano used to be a long train ride but with the ease of the tunnel we were right back to where we started in just 30 minutes.  Then it was just a short bus ride from the Lugano station to Porto Bello where we relished one last stop for a late afternoon aperitivo as we relaxed with a refreshing spritz and we celebrated our successful day of sightseeing around beautiful Ticino. 

It really is so simple and easy to travel around the area. The ground we covered would have taken at least twice the time in a car. Travel by train made it painless and we never had to worry about finding parking. It, definitely, was easier to take the train and it is so much shorter now that the new Ceneri Tunnel has greatly improved the travel times. 

It is so lovely to be able to just hop on the train and arrive so quickly to so many places in Switzerland. We loved being able to explore and be in different locations in no time at all. We enjoyed visiting 3 great cities in Ticino- Lugano, Bellinzona and Locarno, all in one day. It was pretty impressive if you ask me. 

Thank you @ticinoturismo – we had a very enjoyable day exploring our own backyard with the ease of train and the new Ceneri Base Tunnel.

Swiss Traditions

We’ve had the opportunity to experience a great Swiss tradition in both the German and Italian part of the country.  Every February the Swiss, and a majority of Western European countries, celebrate Carnival. The celebrations usually take place in February or March, before the start of Lent. It’s a time of year when the Swiss really let their hair down.

In the German speaking part of Switzerland this holiday is known as Fasnacht, while in the Italian part it is referred to as Carnivale. Whatever the case, the holiday period is something we have really come to embrace while living in Switzerland.
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The Swiss tradition is everyone dresses up, but these are not simple costumes, they are usually amazing, unique costumes, many of them are homemade.
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Fasnacht Basel is the most famous celebration in Switzerland, but most Swiss villages put on pretty impressive celebrations throughout the month. Parties in the streets, intricate costumes, parades and plenty of alcohol keeps the Swiss partying for days.
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Our first few years, we just wore halloween costumes, but after years of seeing the costume creativity we decided we wanted to take part too.

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In Switzerland there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.  Rain or shine, they party is on. The schools participate by encouraging all the children to dress up and parade around the village.

 

In the Italian part of Switzerland, the city of Bellinzona puts on a pretty impressive party that goes for days. It includes parades, large street parties, and some amazing costumes.