A taste of Italy, before Italy

October 6-7 – Our itinerary called for 2 days between Zurich and Milan.  Scanning some Swiss tourism brochures, I picked Lugano for a couple of reasons: it looked stunningly beautiful (something we came to learn applied to everywhere we went in Switzerland), there were well reviewed red wines made in the region, and it is a unique pocket of Italian culture tucked inside Switzerland’s border. 

The train trip from Zurich was two and a half hours of amazing views out the window – valleys and mountains, quaint towns, rivers and lakes.   It was on this train ride that I was reminded that the journey is as important as the destination.  When we arrive in Lugano, I’m actually a bit disappointed to get off the train.

It’s a short walk from the train station to our hotel.  We attempt to check in, and they don’t have any record of our reservation.   I had cancelled our original reservation and re-booked when the price dropped.  They saw the cancellation, but never caught the new booking.   After a few minutes, they apologized for the mistake with the keys for an upgraded room.  The first breathtaking moment in Lugano came when I opened the window to this view:

That made supper plans really easy – a Ticino merlot and a few staples from the grocery store would be enjoyed while we sat on our deck and looked out over Lugano.  So taken were we with the view, we took this video from our hotel room patio of Lugano.

We took a stroll around the town on our first afternoon and  it really felt like we were in a different country.  Without the Swiss flag flying, you really would have thought you were in Italy.

Some of the Italian influenced architecture:

The main town square of Lugano:

A view of Lugano from across the lake:

The clarity of the skies on our second day beckoned us to travel up one of the two mountains surrounding the town – Monte San Salvatore (912 metres).  From the top, we have 360 degree views including toward Lombardy (Italy) and of the Swiss and Savoy Alps:

Here’s the obligatory shot of the two of us from the windy peak.  We’re actually standing on the roof of a church – a location which affords the best views.

After lunch on our balcony (we really couldn’t take our eyes off the view) and an afternoon walk around the town (complete with a gelato break on a bench by the lake), we wrap up our last evening in Lugano by having a typical Ticino supper of risotto (mushroom risotto for me, saffron risotto for Jodi) along with another Ticino merlot at La Tinera just off the town square. 

I know I left part of my heart here.  The views, the laid back Italian lifestyle and the surprisingly great wines made these two of the best days of our trip.

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