About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lugano Switzerland

We woke up with a plan to visit Lugano Switzerland today. We left the house around 10am and arrived in Lugano just after 11am. Yes, Switzerland is only a one hour drive from our house.

Lugano is the largest city in the canton of Ticino, the Italian-speaking province of Switzerland. It has a population of 53,000 and is located on the shores of Lurago di Lugano. Lugano is the crossroads of the William Tell Express and the Bernina Express, two of Switzerland's most scenic train rides. Most residents of Lugano speak Italian.

After finding a parking garage, we wandered down the waterfront in search of the starting point for the Rick Steve's walking tour in his Switzerland guidebook.

Statue of George Washingon. I'm not sure what significance it has here in Lugano.

Lurago di Lugano - photo by Brandon

Katrina the photographer. I really like this shot of her - photo by Brandon

Lurago di Lugano - photo by Brandon

Sculpture along waterfront - photo by Brandon

Lugano - photo by Brandon

We would eventually make our way to this mountain to ride the funiculare, only to find it closed for the season - photo by Brandon

Once we found Piazza Cioccaro, we followed the self guided tour in the book. The guidebook pointed out old shops and the Grand Cafe' al Porto, the most historic cafe in town, opening in 1803. It was in this cafe that Italian patriots met to plan their next moves to unify Italy. It was also here that US dignitaries, Nazi representatives and Italian representatives met to organize a smooth end to the war and German pullout of Italy. And, Clark Gable and Sofia Loren had coffee here.

Christmas decor - photo by Brandon

Swiss Army Cow

Swiss Cheese Cow

This place was very busy!

Oranges are in season in the south of Italy and can be found in all the markets

Our next stop was Piazza della Riforma. Lugano is the most liberal voting city in Switzerland, as the name of the piazza suggests. From here we made our way past the Church of San Rocco and on to Parco Civico.

Church of San Rocco. Inside are frescoes dedicated to the saint responsible for protecting the city against the plague.

Villa Ciani, which houses the city museum and is located in Parco Civico

Views of Lurago di Lugano from the park

The park is full of many unusual trees

We stopped at a very nice playground so that Brandon could play. What a beautiful day. The sun was shining brighly and it wasn't too cold. Many Italians visit Lugano due to its high number of sunny days, a break from the grey bleakness of northern Italy in the winter.

We tried to take a funiculare ride up Monte Bre', but it was closed for the season. Brandon was a bit bummed, but I know we will be back this spring or summer.

On our way back into town we stopped for Kabab sandwiches and ate them in the park. Brandon also got a little more playtime. Walking through the park I noticed a young guy drinking Dr. Pepper. We decided I should check a supermarket before we left town, but then I forgot. Dr Pepper is second only to Coke, but is not available in Italy.

Making our way back towards the parking garage, we stopped at the Church of St. Mary of the Angels. This church dates back to 1499 and was part of a monastery.

Church of St. Mary of the Angels

The Last Supper 1529, Bernardino Luini. He was nicknamed the 'Raphael of the North'

The Passion and Crucifixion of Christ 1529, also by Bernardino Luini. This painting is considered to be the finest Renaissance fresco in Switzerland.

My favorite sculpture. I just like the bold red

Katrina and Brandon goofing off in my shot

The waterfront park had a lot of interesting sculptures that I thought were fantastic.

We had a great time in Lugano and definitely want to go back. We are already thinking of a spring or summer long weekend. Lugano just adds more points to my ranking of Switzerland as my favorite European destination.

My top 5 European destinations as of today:

1. Switzerland
2. Bled, Slovenia
3. Munich, Germany
4. Venice, Italy
5. Verona, Italy

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