The Locarno Falconry (Falconeria), a green oasis in the middle of Locarno's urban environment, is just 15 minutes on foot from the Piazza Grande. It's a relic from an earlier age, in which man and nature harmonise and the ancient art of falconry has been preserved in all its beauty.
As soon as you enter it, you completely forget you're in a town: you're immersed in trees and the smell of earth, leaves, flowers and animals. If you follow the corridor in the shade of a long arch overgrown with climbing plants, you really seem to enter another world. A world that's both enchanting and a little old-fashioned, but whose magic is real. Falconry originated in the Orient thousands of years ago, but did not come to Europe until the Middle Ages, where it quickly established itself as an important hunting method, both from a practical and a symbolic point of view:
falcons and eagles carried deep emblematic meanings back then and were often incorporated into the coats of arms of the nobility. The eagle with its outstretched wings was already the symbol of the Roman Empire. Refined Renaissance courts deemed falconry – the sport we admire today – to be real artistry.
Every raptor has its own personality, its little quirks, its good and bad days. They include the serene great horned owl (whose name is Dante and with whom you can have your photo taken as a souvenir); the eagle who loves seizing biscuits and stuffed animals when they're thrown up in the air; the saker falcon who loves to hover in the wind at height and won't come back down until he's asked; and the little screech owl that sidles up to the camera lens out of curiosity… Each raptor has a world within it that contributes to making the flight demonstrations a unique experience that's appreciated by children and grown-ups alike.
The falconry has lots more surprises in store, including birds with unusual behaviours, aviaries for observing birds at close quarters, a picnic area, a pizzeria and snack bar, and a shop selling cuddly toys and other souvenirs – not to mention pony rides for children and even a birthday party venue.
The falconry also hosts wedding receptions and offers special action photo opportunities. So if you're looking for somewhere a little out of the ordinary to spend the day, this is the place! The falconry is open all year round and in all weathers, thanks to the covered grandstand.