Madonna del Sasso
At the top of a scenographic rock spur with a splendid view of Lake Maggiore, there is a convent, which also includes a small museum, and the sanctuary of the Assumption, usually called the Madonna del Sasso. Along the valley road meander the church of the Annunciation and various chapels furnished with groups of statues and wall paintings. On the same slope stand the shrines of the Via Crucis with bas-reliefs in cast iron.
Tradition tells us that Fra Bartolomeo d'Ivrea, a Franciscan friar in the Convent of San Francesco in Locarno, at the end of 15th century, chose to live as a hermit at the foot of the cliff, and, after an apparition of the Virgin Mary, decided to build a devotional place on the "stone" of Locarno. He built two small oratories, one of which was expanded to become a church. The convent was built later on.
At the end of the 16th century, construction began on a second church, the current sanctuary, on the top of the rocky spur, and the design of a sacred route, following the example of other Sacred Mountains, such as that of Varallo Sesia: this was the origin of the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross). Some artists working on the Locarno path contributed works to the Sacro Monte of Varese.
The complex, properties, and Convent of the Capuchins, were expropriated in the 19th century by the Swiss Republic, and became the property of the Canton of Ticino, but even today, the friars are its guardians.
The Funiculare Locarno - Madonna del Sasso (FLMS) cable railway connects the centre of Locarno to the Sanctuary of Orselina. It was built at the end of the 19th century and opened in 1906, departing from just a few meters away from the railway station. In just 6 minutes (the journey is about 800 metres), visitors can go from the centre of Locarno to one of the most spectacular balconies overlooking Lake Maggiore.