Special guest: just the family this time
Cool thing: The Gotthard tunnel is currently the longest train tunnel in the world. At the “deepest” point you’re below 2.3km of mountain and temperatures can reach up to 45 degrees C.
I’m reaching a point in my life where it’s a tad embarrassing to admit my favourite food is pizza (yes, I’m 25!) but the fact remains. So we figured, in the week of my birthday, why not head to Italian Switzerland for one of the country’s finest oven-baked dough-and-cheese treats? So yesterday we headed south.
It was actually pretty good timing – Zurich, and indeed all the bits of Switzerland we passed through on “our” side of the Alps, were full of squally snowstorms and subzero temperatures, while in sunny Ticinio it was, well, sunny! (full disclosure: there was some snow on the ground and an icy wind, but it was 10 celsius and lovely in the sunshine). We got to travel through the recently opened Gotthard tunnel, which meant our travel time from Zurich HB to Bellinzona was a shade under 2 hours. This was excellent because 2 hours is about as long as Himself and I can manage to entertain two young children on a train journey while maintaining our own sanity (thank goodness we decided not to visit Australia this year!)
Bellinzona is famous for its three castles, which are UNESCO listed. I’m pleased to report we visited all three although, being winter, they weren’t looking too lively – you could walk around the grounds and the ramparts but not go inside (however this also saved us paying any entry fees, ha!). There’s usually the dinky little Artù Castle Train running a few times per day to take you up the very steep hill to Castello Montebello and Castello Sasso Corbaro but this was also on “winterpause”. No matter, we lucked in by getting to the postbus stop at just the right time (buses were only once every 2 hours!) so we caught the bus to the top (Castello Sasso Corbaro), took a look around, then walked down to Montebello, which was the biggest castle with the most to see, as well as a small playground for the kids, and then it was time to catch the postbus back to the station and get the train home.
Did I mention the pizza? In between the Castlegrande and heading up the hill to the other two, we had a nice wander through the town of Bellinzona, checking out the Saturday produce market (we bought some cheese for our newly-acquired raclette grill) then stopped at a local pizzeria for some very tasty birthday lunch.
A brilliant day out in beautiful Bellinzona and that’s Ticino ticked off the list. However, I feel like we may have to revisit this canton before the year is out, as there’s so much to do here – eg: I’m slightly bummed we didn’t go to Swissminatur yet!
Yay for birthday pizza! What does pizza and your age have to do with anything? Favorite food is favorite food!
I’ve never been to Ticino in winter. Looks like you picked a nice day! You definitely have to come back and plan on spending a couple of days. The Locarno / Ascona area is lovely!
Now I’m hungry 🤐 sounds amazing ✨
Oh gosh you must must go back to Ticino, it’s beautiful and Lugano is one of my favorite places ever ❤️
I lived in Ticino for two years in Lugano and I highly recommend coming back!! Bellinzona has an amazing wine festival in the fall to visit (the wine is free!) and Lugano in general is just such a pleasant city. Thanks for bringing back such glorious nostalgia of that beautiful part of the world! I know this is an older post but I saw your article on TheLocal.ch and I saw you had visited my old stomping grounds and had to say hello.
Thanks for stopping by! 🙂