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Locarno is located in the southwest of the Swiss canton of Ticino at 200 meters above sea level between the north-western shore of Lake Maggiore and the Monte Cardada mountain. The city has an area of 19.4 sq. km and 16,000 inhabitants, and it has grown together with the two independent communities of Muralto and Minusio to the north.
Locarno is the northernmost municipality with a mild Mediterranean climate along a lake. It is thus one of the climatically nicest and also the warmest place in Switzerland. Nearly 2,300 hours of sunshine per year and an average annual temperature of 15.5° C result in an early start to spring, long hot summers with little rainfall and an autumn that lasts well into November. For this reason, many Mediterranean plants such as palm trees or lemon trees grow in Locarno.
Cardada-Cimetta is mainly known as the “Pearl of Lake Maggiore” because of its stunning panoramas. Due to its sunny south-facing slopes and mild climate, the local mountain area of Locarno offers a fascinating landscape with diverse flora and fauna. Thus at this altitude you can find sun-drenched flowers such as camellias and numerous bird species in the woods alongside beech, larch, chestnut and birch trees.
From Locarno, a cog railway leads to Orselina where you can find the valley station of the cable car for Cardada, which was built next to the pilgrimage church of Madonna del Sasso, designed by the famous Swiss architect Mario Botta. The Cardada mountain station is 1,340 meters above sea level and from here a double chair lift runs up to the Cimetta mountain station.
At 1,670 meters above sea level, the mountain summit has a viewing platform at the geological observation station of Cimetta with a breathtaking 360 degree panorama view of the entire Locarno region. To the west is an impressive view of some famous alpine peaks like the Dufourspitze or the Matterhorn. To the east you can see over the plains of Magadino to Bellinzona and to the south the view reaches to Lake Maggiore and the surrounding mountains to the Ligurian Alps in the area of Genoa. This panorama is also unique because two “extremes” of Switzerland can be seen: the lowest point in the Maggia delta between the towns of Ascona and Locarno, and the highest point, the Dufourspitze in the Monte Rosa massif.
Cardada-Cimetta is a perfect destination for family outings and mountaineers in summer or winter. Here in Cardada the “Passerelle”, a footbridge among the treetops, leads to a viewing platform that opens up a beautiful view to visitors over Lake Maggiore, the Centovalli and part of the Maggia valley. Along the 1.2 km long “play walking path”, young and young-at-heart hikers are welcome to use original, exciting and at the same time educational play equipment to discover exercise and adventure on the mountain. There is also a small Indian village with teepees and a cowboy fort for playing and romping around in the forest between the cable car station and the chairlift.
The pleasant coolness in the heights of Cardada-Cimetta is an ideal place not only for hiking but also for numerous sporting activities such as orienteering for adults and children, Nordic walking, mountain biking, hang gliding and paragliding. Connoisseurs and foodies can relax on the reflexology path right next to the mountain station of the Cardada aerial cableway or indulge in typical Ticino cuisine on the many sun terraces of the huts and restaurants on the mountain.
In winter, the ski area of Cardada-Cimetta is only minutes from the city center of Locarno and also offers a variety of recreational and sporting activities: explore the mountain landscape with downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, tobogganing or snowshoeing.
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