Autumn holidays in Ticino: discover the Centovalli
Are you planning your autumn holidays in Ticino in the sunny Lake Maggiore region? Discover our top tip for an enchanting autumn: discover the Centovalli, through the colours of autumn thanks to the foliage train.
The Centovalli area is always at its best in autumn. As you travel on the foliage train, you can discover the most beautiful villages of the Ticino Valley and experience the “Indian summer” in comfort. In addition to its colourful natural palette, the Centovalli also has a fun side. The valley is closely associated with the Dimitri family, who have made the whole of Switzerland laugh from their base here.
The Centovallitakes its name from the many (if not actually 100) branched side valleys. It starts at Intragna and winds its way to Camedo on the Swiss–Italian border. In this particular valley the best way to admire autumn in all its colourful glory is by taking the train. The Centovallina – as the train is also known – runs between Locarno and Domodossala every hour while the autumnal colours are at their peak, passing the most spectacularly coloured forests and stopping at the most charming spots in the valley. Thanks to the Mediterranean climate, autumn lasts a long time in Ticino and can be admired until mid-November. Perfect for relaxing holidays in autumn. Travellers should definitely stop off mid-journey to discover the unique villages with their traditional stone buildings and to dine at a grotto-style rustic hostelry.
The village of Intragna is the gateway to the Hundred Valleys. This is where the Centovalli and Onsernone valleys and the Melezza and Isorno rivers divide. Therefore, the village is called this way: the name Intragna means "between the rivers" in its Latin origin. The village has a long history, it already existed in the Middle Ages.
The village Intragna was once known for the trade in indentured child labourers, who were sold as chimney sweeps in larger cities. These days you can stroll through the narrow streets, soak up the sun with a coffee on the panoramic terrace, and enjoy a bird’s eye view over the village. More than 160 steps lead up the narrow church tower to a viewing platform. If you squeeze past the clock mechanism, directly beneath the bells, you can enjoy views over the whole village and far into the valley beyond. The 65-metre church tower is the highest in the entire canton and forms part of the adjoining regional museum.
Since 1958 the idyllic village of Rasa has been accessible by direct cable car from Verdasio train station. Before that you could only get there on foot. Once at the top, visitors will find an idyllic village with traditional stone cottages, a small 17th century church and wonderful views of the Centovalli in its autumn glory.
This car-free spot is one of the best-kept secrets in Ticino, making it an ideal place to spend a few quiet hours or to go on long autumn hikes. Barely ten minutes above Rasa, you’ll find a swing from the “Swing the World” project. The swings have been installed by two young Ticinese in spots with the most scenic views in the canton. The short walk through the autumn forest is rewarding for swinging out into the colourful world and to enjoy the fantastic view of the village Rasa.
As you stroll through Verscio, you should follow the little clowns located by the roadside. They point the way to the Teatro Dimitri and the associated Museo Comico. The theatre was founded by Clown Dimitri and his wife Gunda in 1971. Dimitri, who was probably the most famous clown in Switzerland, made the Centovalli his adopted home and left an indelible mark behind.
The theatre is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the world of clowns. You will encounter cultural highlights and culinary specialities in a unique ambience designed by Dimitri. Verscio is also home to the Accademia Dimitri, one of Switzerland's four university theatre schools and the only one in Ticino. Students come from all over the world to study here. The Dimitri family has been associated with the Centovalli for over three generations. Clown Dimitri’s son, David Dimitri, now runs the theatre, which was founded in 1971. Even as a young boy he would ride his unicycle from Verscio to school in Intragna every day, only taking the Centovallina in wet weather. The Teatro Dimitri celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021. This promises to be an exciting anniversary year packed with varied events and unique performances. “Centovalli is my home turf; I know it like the back of my hand. And yet there’s always something new to discover.” David Dimitri's words could not better represent the mystical and colourful valley of a hundred valleys, where it is always worth venturing out for a sweet and laughter-filled adventure.
The charming clowns Aline and Martin del Torre of Compagnie Pas de Deux are both graduates of the Dimitri Academy. They take their travelling theatre with their mobile stage around Europe, reaching even remote places and inspire the audience with their musical and acrobatic performances.