Bellinzona has three castles dating from the 13th to the 15th centuries: the Schwyz, the Unterwald, and the Uri.
Castle of Uri (Castelgrande, or San Michele in Italian; tel. 091/825-81-45), built in 1280, is the most ancient and the largest castle in town. To reach the castle, take an elevator from piazza del Sole in the town center. In addition to the elevator, there are sign-posted paths from Piazza Collegiata and Piazza Nosetto for those who'd like to take one of the most scenic walks in the area. The castle was restored in 1991 with a historical section and a small numismatic museum. The castle contains a restaurant, a banquet room, and a congress hall. It's open daily from 10am to 6pm. Admission is 5F for adults; 2.50F for children, students, and seniors 65 or over.
The most outstanding of the three medieval fortifications is the Schwyz Castle (Castello di Montebello; tel. 091/825-13-42). It has a 13th-century château with a courtyard, as well as several 15th-century additions. Today, it's a minor museum of history and archaeology. To get here by car, start from viale Stazione and follow the steep ramp up to this huge citadel. The opening hours are April to November daily 8am to 8pm. It's closed from December to March. Admission is 5F for adults and 2.50F for children, students, and seniors 65 or over.
Castle of Unterwald (Castello di Sasso Corbaro; tel. 091/825-59-06) was built in 1479. It can be reached by the same road that goes up to the Schwyz . The view from the terrace here is the finest in Bellinzona. You'll see not only the lower valley of the Ticino, but Lake Maggiore as well. The castle hosts temporary exhibitions. Open only April to November daily from 10am to 6pm, the castle's admission price is 5F for adults, and 2.50F for children, students, and seniors, depending on the exhibit.
Also worth visiting is the collegiate Church of Sts. Peter and Stephen, dating from the 16th century. It's a fine Renaissance structure, with a richly embellished baroque interior. The location is across from Castelgrande.
Guided walking tours of Bellinzona, its Old Town, and its castles are available upon request at the tourist office.
Bellinzona Blues -- In late July, hordes from throughout Switzerland gather in Bellinzona for the annual Blues Festival, where free concerts are staged in squares. Some of the biggest names in blues, such as Buddy Guy and Son Seals, have appeared here, and the tourist office will supply the details, which change every year.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.