Ascona makes for an excellent alternative to its twin town Locarno, and is located some 3km southwest on the other side of the Maggiore delta, with charming views of the lake and tempting lakefront restaurants, cafes and hotels.
Sun-drenched, gaily painted Piazza Motta, right on the lakefront, is the place to preen and parade come passeggiata time, with the wealthy town’s chic residents (often originally from the German-speaking part of Switzerland or Germany itself) turning out to enjoy an apéritif and snacks on a terrace or to walk the designer dog.
Market day is Tuesday (from late March until mid-October), with the lakefront promenade full of tempting food and local souvenirs. There’s a modest modern art museum and the historic Castello San Materno to visit if you’re in the mood for art.
Every year in late June Ascona Jazz takes place, filling the town with beautiful music and drawing crowds.
A famous (or infamous, depending on your interests) sight in the area is Monte Verità (350m, 1150ft) once the home a Utopian commune that attracted bold-faced names such as Hermann Hesse, Carl Jung, Isadora Duncan and Paul Klee.