Travel Switzerland: Lugano City Swiss-iano

Travel Switzerland: Lugano City Swiss-iano

Travel Switzerland: Lugano City Swiss-iano

Travel Switzerland: Lugano City Swiss-iano

 

By Cami Courtright

I had been travelling in northern Italy for a month, and crossed the border happy to reacquaint myself with the Swiss town of Lugano and its fresh mountain air. It is an attractive city with bi-cultural essence: Italian language, food and fashion mixed with the organization, tidiness and currency of Switzerland.

The first time I used the bus I couldn’t believe how structured it was. In Venice one afternoon I had waited 20 minutes for a bus that was scheduled to arrive every 15 minutes. I asked a bystander when the next bus would come, and the answer translated to: “Any guess is a good one.” In Lugano one could pay in cash or use a card. You didn’t have to purchase a ticket beforehand. There was an electronic sign indicating when the next bus would arrive. And sure enough if it stated four minutes, exactly four minutes later the bus would appear around the bend.

I stayed in Lugano for five days and visited a nearby town of Bellinzona. It is a picturesque village to wander around for an afternoon with plenty of small shops and restaurants. It has an eye-catching Old Town area and a most interesting castle which appears to emerge from the mountain rock.

Castle fortress of Bellinzona

Castle fortress of Bellinzona

Besides the day trip I spent much of my time in Lugano walking along the lake captivated by an extended family of swans. To watch these swans glide, float and waddle out of the water with the backdrop of the Alps was a lot of beauty to take in each day. The swans are so used to humans they will saunter right up to you or settle in the grass by the children’s playground.

Lakeside swans galore

Lakeside swans galore in Lugano, Switzerland

I meandered to my rented room one evening as the sun was setting. With the robin egg blue lake on my left and the snow-capped mountains a subtle pink, it was breathtaking twilight imagery.

I had been in a carb overload in Italy so it was helpful to be able to find something like a salad for lunch. One afternoon I went to at an Indian restaurant (Indian Thali). It is located in a building you could easily pass by and never know a restaurant was inside. But once you enter there is remarkable décor and authentic Indian food to choose from an impressive menu. In the evenings there are Bollywood dancers. I returned a few nights later and it was so crowded I wasn’t able to see the performance; however the music was enjoyable to listen to even from the outside.

Lugano - European architecture in the city center

Lugano – European architecture in the city center

There are numerous cafés and restaurants along the lake with stunning views. Even MacDonald’s has a lovely view. There are also a myriad of chocolate shops selling everything from small chocolate pieces to chocolate “popsicles.” I counted eighteen types of chocolate in one store (milk, dark, coconut, hazelnut, honey, champagne truffle to name a few). And for the stronger-willed or vegan traveler, I stumbled across a Natural Food café with healthy options.

My host was an Italian who had immigrated to Switzerland. Although he and his family did not speak much English they nevertheless invited me for dinner one night. It was an enjoyable evening as we utilized Google translate to tell stories and make one another laugh. I showed them the European Heaven/Hell meme (which surprisingly many Europeans have not seen) and they were particularly amused at “…in hell the Germans are the police and everything is run by the Italians.”

Lugano, Switzerland

Lugano, Switzerland

In essence, Lugano is a place with the best of both the Italian and Swiss worlds. I never tired of hearing Italian spoken in addition to appreciating the orderliness. And one can’t go wrong with the added bonus of Swiss chocolate.

IF YOU GO:

 

BIO

Cami Courtright

Cami Courtright

Cami Courtright writes a monthly column for a local newspaper where she lives (north of San Francisco). This came about as a result of an on-going humorous blog she’s produced about her hometown for the last four years. Click here to read her column.

 

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