Centovalli Express – a Panoramic Train connecting Locarno in Switzerland and Domodossola in Italy!
The Centovalli Express connects the towns of Locarno on the Lago Maggiore with the Italian town Domodossola in the Piedmont region. The Centovalli railway is a spectacular panoramic train ride which takes you in two hours from the lake, through forests, alongside rivers and past countless waterfalls. The railway takes you over beautiful bridges and through peaceful vineyards. In Autumn, since the Fall Foliage is spectacular in this region, the ‘Treno del Foliage’, a special Fall Foliage train with large windows, runs on the rail of the Centovalli Express during one month.
The Centovalli railway is 52 kilometers long, and gently takes you over 83 bridges and through 34 tunnels in the Centovalli region in Switzerland and the Val Vigezzo region in Italy. There are stops to choose from on both ways, and both Locarno and Domodossola are beautiful cities to visit.
Possible Stops on the Centovalli Express train
When you reserve your ticket online and choose a seat reservation, the system also lets you choose one stop in both directions. You may also choose to stay the night at one of the stops, as your ticket can be valid for two days.
Locarno is a beautiful city on the shores of the Lago Maggiore. Take a stroll along the lake side, or take the funicular up to the spectacular Madonna del Sasso. A sanctuary built on the hill above the city, offering you an incredible view on the lake. Just next to Madonna del Sasso is a good restaurant, Restaurant Funicolare Orselina, serving local specialties on a terrace with a panoramic view. The funicular to go up to Madonna del Sasso is located very close to the Locarno train station.
Ponte Brolla is worth a short stop to walk along the river and admire the natural beauty. There is a typical regional Grotto restaurant in Ponte Brolla called ‘Grotto America’ which has a nice terrace close to the river.
Re in Valle Vigezzo
Re in Valle Vigezzo is a very small town, but with a big cathedral, the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sangue. The cathedral is built on a place where a smaller church was, because of the bloodshed from a fresco which is said to have been observed here in 1494. The story goes that while playing, a young boy threw a stone on a fresco representing Madonna. The following morning the fresco of the Madonna started to bleed, which is said to have lasted for days. The sanctuary therefore is a place of pilgrimage.
In Intragna you can visit a church, a bell tower, and the regional museum of Centovalli and Pedemonte.
Domodossola is a cute Italian town with a nice historic center with narrow alleys. We were in Domodossola around lunch time and had a delicious lunch at restaurant ‘La Torre’ where the staff was super nice and the food super good. It is a restaurant serving specialties from Sardinia, as well as pizzas.
Address of restaurant La Torre: Via Briona 18.
When you wander around the historic center of Domodossola, signs will explain you a bit of the history of the old town. Domodossola is also famous for its weekly market which is held on Saturdays, between 8:00 and 12:00.
What you should know is that if you are there around lunch time, shops are sometimes closed for quite a while. In Italy, this can be between noon and 15:00, or even 16:00.
Gelato in Domodossola
We decided to skip dessert at the restaurant and try out one of the gelato shops in the city. The Gelateria Voglia di Gelato & More shop was very nice and the kids were happy with their selection of ice-creams and single cups of gelato decorated with candy.
Address of Voglia di Gelato & More: Piazza Chiossi, Domodossola.
On the main square we also saw a Vegan restaurant, we somehow didn’t expect to find a vegan restaurant in Domodossola.
Our stop in Domodossola, including lunch, was for 3 hours and that was perfect for us. In case you visit on a market day, you may want to stay a bit longer.
More information and Centovalli Express tickets:
The Centovalli Express runs year round. The Fall Foliage train runs from mid October until mid November. On the Centovalli railway line, you can also download an audioguide with a map to follow your journey.
Their website: http://centovalli.ch/en/