Visit Locarno’s town center, Piazza Grande, a rambling 19th-century square that was once occupied by the waters of Lake Maggiore. Today, picturesque buildings and important landmarks line the historic square. Each August it is transformed into one of the world’s premier open-air cinemas during the Locarno Film Festival. A trip to Locarno isn’t complete without a day spent meandering across the cobbled surface of the enormous square.
Follow the streets from Locarno’s Old Town to reach the Piazza Grande. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps, the piazza is one of the few spots in the heart of the city that offer you the space to really take in the scale of the mountains towering above you. Sit outside a restaurant or café to enjoy the view over a meal or drink. Even in the colder months, blankets outside the restaurants will allow you to stay warm.
Many of the buildings on the square predate its creation by centuries. Originally these buildings, including the Civic Tower and a number of historic houses, lined the banks of the lake. Admire the varied styles of architecture of the buildings and stroll through the landscaped gardens, designed by locally born architect Domenico Fontano.
Come to Locarno in August to see the piazza transformed into an enormous open-air cinema and the headquarters of the Locarno Film Festival. Each night about 8,000 people converge on the square to watch the festival’s major films on one of the largest screens in Europe. Sit among the crowd and watch films with the stunning backdrop of Lake Maggiore.
The Piazza Grande is located in the heart of Locarno and can easily be reached on foot from all central locations. Some street parking is available in the area. Buses pass the square regularly.