Our last stop in Switzerland on the way to Italy was Lugano, which I learned since my visit, is the largest Italian-speaking city outside of Italy. At the time it confused me quite a bit to hear so much Italian spoken in Switzerland, but given its location by the Swiss-Italian border it makes perfect sense. As with Luzern we were treated to a gorgeous lake (Lake Lugano) but unlike Luzern, Lugano had a charming small village/city like feel. Well, if your small city/village is lined with glitzy high-end stores (apparently it’s referred to as “Monte Carlo of Switzerland” by some), numerous luxury car dealerships, and countless fancy private banks.
As we had done previously to travel between cities in Switzerland (Zurich to Bern, Bern to Luzern), we took a train from Luzern to Lugano. If I didn’t gush about the efficient train and transportation system in Switzerland before, let me do it now. Throughout our time in Switzerland Lynne and I kept saying how this country was “idiot proof.” One reason for it being so, in my opinion, was the Swiss trains. The trains and the fact that everyone in the country seems to be a polyglot. When I grow up, I would like to be just like Switzerland- calm, peaceful, and stable (neutral/objective?), efficient and in favor of quality over quantity (trains, watches, etc), filled with natural beauty (the mountains! the lakes!), know how to indulge every now and then (Switzerland has the highest per capita rate of chocolate consumption in the world), and speak a gazillion languages.
In order to maximize our time (and trying to be efficient like Switzerland), we packed our lunch to eat on the train. We had quite a variety of things with us, including grapes, apples, bananas, cured meats, crackers, a bag of carrots, this freshly baked pretzel with pumpkin seeds, a sandwich made with pretzel bread, and a chunk of really stinky cheese that had flowers in it (it was delicious). No, I never travel hungry.
The views? Well. Everything outside the window was greener than the greenest emeralds, and the rain that dampened our trip transformed into waterfalls streaming down those emerald mountains. I honestly could not believe my eyes…
I know I was just saying how efficient Swiss transportation system was but when we arrived in Lugano we found all the ticket machines being updated. As we couldn’t purchase our tickets, we got to ride the bus for free and the same happened the next day on our return trip. But enough with that and onto… Lake Lugano.
We walked all along the lake, stopping at a few churches all the way over to the park. We were able to do most of our sightseeing in one afternoon. We were stunned to see these frescos by Bernardino Luini at Chiesa Santa Maria Degli Angioli (Church of Saint Mary of the Angels). This church has a fascinating history behind it, which I read about from this site. It said that this “passion” fresco were discovered in the 1920s behind some wooden paneling!
Below is Luini’s version of the Last Supper.
Such unassuming facade doesn’t match the incredible surprises inside…
One beautiful church after another…
We walked through Piazza della Riforma and back out to the lake, and over to Parco Civico. With all these Italian names and Italian art, wouldn’t you think it’s Italy? We even had some gelato and I used my limited Italian vocabulary to order it.
If it was sunny and bright when we woke up the next morning, I would have gladly climbed up Monte San Salvatore. But it was not to be… so while Lynnie went for a jog I took another walk along the lake and into the city to see what Lugano looked like on a Saturday morning.
It was pretty spectacular. But peaceful. And quiet.
Dear Switzerland, I leave you this time with some of your famous Swiss chocolates and a resolve to return for a longer visit. I’ll be back to take full advantage of your Swiss Pass, I promise. Thank you & see you soon!