Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Rio of the Old World

October was generally cool and dull in Neuchâtel, much more so than last year, so when Bob suggested we head south for a weekend, I jumped at the opportunity. "South" in Switzerland means the Italian canton, Ticino. We had visited Locarno during Orientation in 2014, so the other major city in the region, Lugano, was our destination that Friday afternoon.
Above Lugano
The train ride there is quite lengthy, over four hours, but I was glad to use that time to get on top of my marking. That allowed me to fully enjoy the beautiful setting that we discovered when we arrived in Lugano..
On the promenade
Lugano is situated on an eponymous lake, surrounded by low mountains. It is absolutely beautiful there. By chance, we chose to stay in the Paradiso district south of the old town. By doing so, we were able to enjoy a walk along the lakeside to get to and from our hotel every day.
At dusk, I stand beside an interesting sculpture along the promenade.  
This was a very pleasant stroll. In the evening, the lake was very still, with only a "jet d'eau" near our hotel breaking its surface. At night, this water spout is lit up, in magenta, a stark contrast to the lights behind it.
The "jet d'eau" at night.
The "jet d'eau" in the morning
In the daytime, local fisherman stand in their boats in search of the daily catch, while tour boats travel from town to town along the shore. We were very fortunate to experience ample sunshine during our visit, which only made the scene more lovely.
Bob and I could have spent the entire day taking photos by the water, and, in fact, we left the shores of the lake for only short periods of time – to shop and to eat. Eventually, we followed the lakeside path to its end, the parco civico, a public garden and a beach.
Swans and ducks near the beach.
As we made our way back to the town centre, we passed a sculpture by Igor Mitoraj, Eros Bendato. This would not have been remarkable if not for the fact that we had seen the exact same art piece in Krakow a few weeks beforehand. I have since learned that there are others scattered across the world – in Yorkshire, Rome, St. Louis and Vancouver.
Eros Bendato in Lugano
On this Saturday, a flea market filled the streets of the old town, and the mild weather brought crowds to the cafés. The city was very alive with locals and tourists. There was even another Neuchâtel staff member there – Adam – who had accompanied three cross-country runners to a meet that morning. We met him for lunch.
Lunch time in Lugano

Piazza Riforma, the main square
Not far from the water, the Chiesa Santa Maria degli Angeli, rather plain from the outside, is lovely in the interior. There is a fine fresco from the 16th Century, the most famous such artwork in Switzerland. The artist, Bernadino Luini, studied under Leonardo da Vinci.
Santa Maria degli Angeli

Fresco inside
Lugano is a resort town, a shopping mecca. Unfortunately, it combines Italian style with Swiss prices - so no purchases for me, except at the flea market.
Window shopping, all I can afford.
What we could afford was the food! It was delicious - and Italian. Lots of fish and seafood top the menus, along with fresh pasts and polenta. We found good restaurants both evenings, the Tratorria and Pizza Galleria on the first evening, where we had huge servings of pasta,  and la Tinera, a cozy basement taverna serving local fare on the second.
On the boat.
At the end of the afternoon, we took the boat tour from port to port until we arrived in Gandria, a picturesque village perched on the rocky shore. We only spent about an hour there, but that was enough. It is very small.

The boat picks us up.
On our final morning, we took a funicular to the top of San Salvatore, one of the mountains overlooking Lugano, where the views took our breath away. This was the highlight of our weekend.
The view from the top
A causeway crosses the lake 
From the roof of a small chapel, we had a 360 degree view of southern Switzerland. SwissCom, the company I use for Internet access, has a massive tower perched on the summit of the mountain, as well.
The SwissCom tower
We stayed at the summit for a couple of hours, enjoying a snack at the café there. Then, reluctantly, we descended to the shores of the lake, and headed for the train home.
Lugano inspired us to take creative photos.
Our weekend in Lugano was like a tonic for us. We basked in the stunning scenery, the good food, and the warm sunshine. I am so glad we went.

1 comment:

  1. Next time in the south, I suggest going to Locarno for a change, it is less "posh". It has also at a lake so it has a riviera and a boat (or bike) ride can bring you to Ascona which is the "posh" village. The "Piazza" where they have the film festival is also quite nice. But still Swiss prices :-(