Morcote One of The Most Beautiful Villages of Switzerland
In a country full of storybook castles, quaint villages and breathtaking vistas, choosing the prettiest one can be tough. However, in Switzerland there is an Association of the Most Beautiful Villages. In 2016, in the annual contest, readers of Schweitzer Illustrierten, il caffe and L’illustré, voted Morcote, a small town on the tip of the Ceresian peninsula overlooking Lake Lugano, as the “Most Beautiful Village of Switzerland.”
Morcote is easily accessible by car, bus or boat, but we went by boat, as this is by far the prettiest route from Lugano. Coming from the water, viewing the colourful homes built chock-a-block along the shore and wrapping all the way around the peninsula, you can still see how the waterfront area is and was the heart of the town.
Most likely, the Romans had the earliest settlements and fortifications here, but Morcote was more formally established as a fishing village in the 900s and became an important and lively port town after 1100 when a small castle was built above the village. Until 1847, this was the quickest way to Varese, Como and Milan, and boats were constantly shuttling goods and passengers back and forth.
Along the waterfront, you can stroll past the few cafes, restaurants and shops before turning up into one of the narrow cobblestone lanes and the steps that lead to the Church of Santa Maria del Sasso.
The tower, visible amidst the tall cypress trees, seems to balance precariously on the steep hillside.
From the Church, views of the lake and the surrounding villages are stunning as are the 16thCentury frescos inside.
Fifteen minutes walk from here is Vico di Morcote, a tiny village where the remains of Morcote Castle still sit, almost hidden from view from the water by the dense woodland.
Beyond this is the San Grato Botanic Park, a view-friendly hilltop amongst pretty gardens. On the other side of the Church lies Scherrer Park, former estate of a Swiss textile magnate Arthur Scherrer. Set in levels against the hillside, the park is worth a visit for the stunning views, gorgeous gardens and unusually themed follies and statuary.
If you are visiting Ticino, Morcote is a wonderful destination to explore. It is one of the most picturesque places you can visit and well worth an excursion or overnight stay.
Morcote is accessible by bus, car and boat.
See Google Maps showing Morcote on Lake Lugano below:
Article by Jennifer Lisle
Jennifer is a Zurich-based freelance journalist who has written for The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and Elle, among many others.
All photos by Christina Fryer
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