25 Secret European Villages
mountain town on the river in Giornico, Switzerland

25 Secret European Villages

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age fotostock / Alamy

Medieval churches, cobblestoned streets, and endless olive groves: head to these small European towns to discover a country’s soul.

Giornico, Switzerland

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The charm of Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton of southern Switzerland, is the not-quite-here, not-quite-there, lost-in-time feel of the place. To fully appreciate it, drive north 35 miles from the popular lake resort towns of Ascona and Locarno and find the turnoff for Giornico, a stone relic of 14th-century Europe hiding off the main road. Descend into the valley and arrive at a trickling little river crossed by two arching stone bridges. The family-run restaurants of the region are called grotte. The best, Grotto dei due Ponti, serves dishes like spezzatino (meat ragoût) with polenta and tart local Merlot.

How to Get There: From the lake resorts, drive north 50 minutes on the A13 and N2.

Where to Stay: There are no hotels in Giornico, so stay in nearby Ascona at the pink Hotel Giardino (doubles from $400).

Where to Eat: Grotto dei due Ponti has a shaded terrace that overlooks the river.

mountain town on the river in Giornico, Switzerland

25 Secret European Villages

Giornico, Switzerland

The charm of Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton of southern Switzerland, is the not-quite-here, not-quite-there, lost-in-time feel of the place. To fully appreciate it, drive north 35 miles from the popular lake resort towns of Ascona and Locarno and find the turnoff for Giornico, a stone relic of 14th-century Europe hiding off the main road. Descend into the valley and arrive at a trickling little river crossed by two arching stone bridges. The family-run restaurants of the region are called grotte. The best, Grotto dei due Ponti, serves dishes like spezzatino (meat ragoût) with polenta and tart local Merlot.

How to Get There: From the lake resorts, drive north 50 minutes on the A13 and N2.

Where to Stay: There are no hotels in Giornico, so stay in nearby Ascona at the pink Hotel Giardino (doubles from $400).

Where to Eat: Grotto dei due Ponti has a shaded terrace that overlooks the river.

age fotostock / Alamy
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