Walking in Lugano, you might forget for a moment that you are in Switzerland. Relaxed atmosphere, Italian-influenced Lombardy style architecture, sunshine, locals speaking melodic Italian, - the neighbouring Bel Paese certainly lends its Mediterranean flair.
Lugano, the main city in the Italian-speaking Swiss canton of Ticino, sprawls along the shores of Lake Lugano. It is a destination for mature travellers seeking a balanced mix of comfort, culture, nature and a healthy dose of shopping. You can wonder around the traffic-free historic city center with its fancy boutiques, good restaurants, art galleries and museums.
Pop in to the elegant Grand Café al Porto where exiled Italian political players discussed the country’s unification in the 19th century, and later, Clark Gable, Sophia Loren and a few other stars enjoyed a coffee.
Via Pessina is a paradise for foodies: here you an stock up on local cheese, breads, salami, Swiss chocolate and wine. The Lugano open air farmers’ market is a great place to scour for local delicacies and enjoy the buzz.
|Lugano - Parco Ciani|
On a hot summer day head to Parco Ciani where you can stroll in the shade of old trees, admire English-style gardens with plants from all over the world, statues and fountains. The Villa in the park houses and excellent fine arts museum. For an additional culture fix, visit the 15th century lakefront church St. Mary of the Angels (Chiesa Santa Maria degli Angioli) to see the best Renaissance fresco in Switzerland.
The Lake Lugano Navigation Company runs various boat trips: cruises and excursions any time of the day will take you to the small villages around the lake, for a shopping spree in Italy or a relaxing romantic dinner aboard.
|Lugano - City Hall|
You do not need to break sweat to explore the mountains around Lugano as many of them can be ascended in a funicular. Take a lift to Mount San Salvatore where from the rooftop of the small San Salvatore church you can admire sweeping views of the Lombardy plain and the Alps. Another funicular will take you to the top of Monte Brè for spectacular vistas of Lugano and its surroundings.
Photos via Flickr by: Vasile Cotovanu, Leonora Giovanazzi, Luca Mascaro.