Many tourist attractions can be reached by boat, such as the Brissago Islands, where you'll find Switzerland's only botanical park, which, thanks to Ascona-Locarno's unique climate, is unbelievably rich in flora and fauna. Open to the public since 1950, the Isola Grande botanical park is home to over 2000 plant species from major southern climate zones such as the Mediterranean, Chile, South Africa, Australia and California, and from humid subtropical climate zones, including Asia, America and Oceania. Lake Maggiore and its boat services are hugely important for tourism. Summer activities without the lake are unthinkable. The lake, though, isn't only a welcome attraction, but also an important resource for the locals. Lake Verbano (to give it its official name) forms an important link between its right and left shores: because it's the most direct route, young people from Gambarogno take the boat to attend the vocational or higher secondary schools in Locarno. In short, the lake connects: Italy with Switzerland, the left shore with the right, this village with that.
As a fascinating journey into the past, travelling on the Centovallina from end to end takes two hours, but it feels much less. The Centovalli valley (Swiss side) and Val Vigezzo (Italian side) abound with little villages (some of which are struggling with outward migration), beautiful scenery, countless bridges and gorges. Some of the Centovallina trains benefit from a trolley service selling snacks and beverages. The trip is not for the faint-hearted: the views from the bridges into the gorges can be alarming, and the trains lurch about on the uneven track as they negotiate the bends. But the atmosphere and the views make up for all that! What's more, the Centovallina takes visitors to wonderful destinations in the Centovalli, with its delightful hiking tours and culturally interesting sights.
You can also get to Rasa from Verdasio: the tranquil little village at almost 900 m above sea level is, even today, only accessible on foot or by cableway. For the people who live here, the cableway is also an important part of their everyday lives. From Intragna, a blue four-person cabin climbs to Costa with an interim stop in Pila. Both are small villages, popular with hikers and nowadays mainly inhabited at weekends. But aerial cableways exist outside the Centovalli, too. The Ascona-Locarno region is home to the Robiei cableway, which runs between San Carlo in the Vallemaggia and the foot of the Basodino glacier, and the Cardada-Cimetta cableway providing access to Locarno's local mountain. One thing is for sure: Ascona-Locarno is a region to be discovered and enjoyed!