Ricky Petrucciani, a rising star in track and field events 

Ricky, ambassador of the Ascona-Locarno region, has only now burst onto the scene in athletics, despite having been around for some time. Indeed, he has already taken part in several major events, racing against the world's elite. In 2021, he even won gold at the U23 European Championships in Tallinn, thus qualifying for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. In summer 2022, he won silver in the 400 m at the European Championships in Munich. Successes that he certainly also owes to his roots in the Onsernone Valley. 


Ricky spent his childhood and youth here, in Mosogno, with his father Maurzio. Ricky remembers this as being “a great time”. “Clean air, Zia Ida [a kindly neighbour with whom Ricky spent a lot of time when not in school], who taught me what's really important in life, and the freedom that country life offers,” he recalls, with beaming eyes, “are my most enduring memories of that time growing up in Valle Onsernone”. 

His father, Maurizio, used the Onsernone Valley to hone the 12-year-old's running in preparation for the Mille Gruyère pursuit race. However, he wasn't especially keen on athletics back then: football was his passion. He was even selected for Team Ticino... but that's where his football career ended. At the age of fifteen he decided to try athletics and was a great success. It suits Ricky so well. While he likes time on his own, this cosmopolitan athlete from Lake Maggiore also feels at home in a group. This is very important as, although running is an individual sport, athletes mostly train as a group. He belongs to the LC Zürich athletics club, yet he trains in Zug five times a week, taking the train from Locarno, where he now lives. An enormous effort. But it's worth it, to be as close as possible to the Ticino and his father.  

Ricky and his father make a strong team. Indeed, Maurizio has given up his job for Ricky and is now his manager, accompanying him to races, whenever possible. The decision to leave the Onsernone Valley was not easy. Given the increasing amount of time spent training and poor bus connections at the time, it was the only way Ricky could improve his performance on the track while still keeping up his studies.  

However, he has never lost his ties with this wild corner of the Ticino canton. Everyone who visits the Onsernone Valley remains enchanted by its unspoilt beauty and comes away with a realisation of just how hard life must have been here in the past. The Onsernone Valley isn't the only place he loves: Ascona, where he attended secondary school, is also very dear to him. “I always feel like I'm on holiday when I come to Ascona”. Something Ricky doesn't often get the chance to do. But he doesn't complain, he's happy just so long as he can see Lake Maggiore. The lake is what he misses the most when he's away from home for long periods: “If you're used to seeing the lake, you can't live without it”. Nevertheless, Ricky is always happy to grab any chance to relax. He loves to immerse himself in the warm water at the Termali Salini & Spa in Locarno or stroll along the lake promenade in Ascona. Besides his family and his memories, the mild climate also keeps him in Ticino, as this provides a quality of life hard to find anywhere else.  

Ricky's tip

“Visitors to the Ascona-Locarno region must see Ascona, Locarno and the ever-popular Maggia and Verzasca valleys, and take a dip in Lake Maggiore. However, my two fave places are the Valle Vergeletto, a side valley of the Onsernone Valley, and the hot springs Bagni di Craveggia at the top of the Onsernone Valley. By the way, during Lockdown, I trained on the road to Vergeletto: it was amazing, to train up there with such a backdrop”. 

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