A September 2002 trip
to Lugano by Irene
Quote: We ran, we ran from the rain, the cold and even the snow in central Switzerland, to the warmth and palm trees of Italian Switzerland draped with the reverse majestic backdrop of the Alps all bridged together by the sprawling sparkling Lake Lugano and lake side resort Lugano.
Before you leave, a one hour or day cruise to the villages along the lakeside is a must, as is a cable car visit to the top of Mt. Bre or Mount Generoso further to the south through Capolago. On a good day the vistas extend all the way to Apennies.
Sometimes here where the lake twists and turns the boat can be a better choice of transportation then taxi - it's shorter how the crow flies.
Swiss Franks are the currency (1.47F to the dollar) here as Switzerland does not belong to the EU, and the cost to change to Euros is expensive.
The Tourist Office can help you with hotels, cruises, and city maps (no charge) - address Riva Albertolli 5, facing the lake phone, (091)9214664. Also the tourist office in the train station will make reservations at a hotel for you and will take a deposit which is deducted from your hotel bill.
When using the phone in Switzerland you must always dial the 0 and the in-country area code. Get yourself a phone card in Switzerland - any denomination, 5, 10, 20 franks - and use it at any phone at any post office, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Buses are cheap, only 1.90 Franks (about .25) to ride over the whole town and back to the our hotel on the opposite lakeside. Train fare to Lugano from Arth-Goldau is 60 dollars round trip - not bad!
Past the small desk window, a glass pull door opens into a hallway with a curving staircase to the left and another smaller entrance to the hotel. We were informed that the hotel and restaurant closed at 9pm and if we wished to go out, we were given a key that would let us in this door. Our key lead us to room 22, up a plant and furniture cluttered staircase and hallway, where we had a corner room.
One does not see the room when one opens the door because the view of Lake Lugano and the Mountains hails from two floor to ceiling doors, one at the head of the bed. They open down the center and the lake breeze billows the white sheer curtains like a scene from a Italian villa. A ceiling high wardrobe dwarfs the entire room behind the small round table with two chairs. Past the couch on the wall on the right as you enter, the glass and curtained door of the bath opens on a enormous tub with shower, flanked by the sink and toilet with enough room in the bath room to cater a small party. Our bed was comfy with silky sheets and the towels were ok if not a bit stiff, but plenty big. Beyond the door was a small balcony, with a table, chair and a lounge chair just waiting for us to soak up some sun.
Located about 15 minutes from the train staion by taxi, this hotel is billed as a quiet place to eat, drink, (the wine and the sun), and enjoy the splendor of the lake and mountains. After the taxi drops you at the car park, you still need to walk about 300 yards down a cobble path that is the back door of all the houses, hotels, and restaurants hung on the mountainside. Of course you can always take a water taxi to the hotel, just about the same as ground about 15 dollars. Bus is not convenient, as you need to walk about 1km from the car park up hill to find the bus stop. It is ok though for a trip to the city.
Every morning from 7 to 10 am breakfast is served in the dining room of the restaurant overlooking the stunning lake, with cold cuts, cheese, yogurt, bread, rolls, butter, jam, coffee, tea, and chocolate. I guess you have to pay a lot for the view. Fischer's takes MC, V.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 15, 2002
Sentiero Di Gandria 10
Two brisk waiters will make you feel a little rushed if you have dinner after 8PM. They close the bar and restaurant promptly at 9PM. Roberto will however let you finish your wine.
Before they run you out, the limited but tasty menu includes Italian specialties (raveoli, linguini, lasanga) seafood(fresh trout from the lake), the tagesteller, dayplate (roast beef, gravy, rice and vegetables) and the everlasting steak along with assorted salads and veggies. All entrees are ala carte except the tagesteller.
Our first night we had a wonderful waiter and delicious aromatic pasta. While I had Lasanga (12 dollars) with a wonderful garlicy tomatoe and cheese sauce served piping hot, Robert had Raveoli(12.50) smothered in cheese and and drowning in a basil tomatoe sauce. MMM-good. Only one problem, nothing on the side no salad ,no bread, just the pasta. We shared a lovely mellow bottle of red wine, Merlot, and then wondered if the chef new his stuff as I could not finish.
Next evening I chose the tagesteller and Robert the fish, which he found disappointing while I found the roast beef tender, hot, juicy and the cauliflower in cream sause was a delight. As we often dined late and alone it was romantic with low lights, very subdued music and the twinkling lights of Lugano in the distance reflecting in the dark waters. They accept MC and Visa and are quite pleasant, just close a little too early for me. We found the bar a bit on the expensive side but then so were most places compared to northern Switzerland.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 22, 2002
Sentiero di Gandria 10
After peering into the Sant Antonio chapel around the corner, we slipped into the what seemed an attached glass sun room to the restaurant facade. The same cobblestones of the square filled this tiny room as did miniature black tables and chairs mostly for only two people.
Our first stop here was at the hum of the lunch hour and the cafe buzzed with tourists, local shoppers, harried businessmen, and rushed waiters and waitresses. No one seemed to be impatient or disgruntled, only a lot of hungry people being cared for by a fluid working staff. Feeling in the way, we opted for refreshemnt and decided to return at a less frantic moment.
Later we returned around 2pm after a visit to the the spetacular view from the train station by way of one of two rack cable cars from the city up the mountain. Saited customers lingered over coffe and wine and we entered our sun room to find it no longer had walls, but was open to the piazza. More and larger tables had been added and the staff seemed be cut in half. A quick waiter named Mario bowed and asked for our order. The menu here is quite varied from soup and sandwiches, to three course luncheon, and the favorite is the hand slung pizza of maybe 30 selections.
If you had to peruse the entire menu it might be time for dinner, so best bet is to scan the menu afixed to a huge bulliten board out front, before choosing a seat. We chose at first a bowl of steaming goulash we had seen earlier being served, only to find out that only thing served between 2 and 5 was pizza. So we settled on a salami pizza and wine and beer.
Our pizza arrived promptly and hot hot, on a metal pie plate and with two small saucers. Loads of cheese piled high with slices of tangy salami. (15 franks incl. drinks about 10 dollars) Our water was cordial, but seemed to have trouble with English, while his German worked just fine. Seems to be a locals cafe, you know they say always go where you see all the crowds.
The enterior of the cafe coverd almost half the block back and the facilities were located in the basemment after manuvering the maze of pink clothed tables stuffed in every corner. Customers brought in their dogs and lounged in the cafe up and down the row of tables on the left part of the street and the jumble of tables to the front. They will accept your MC or Visa, but not for less then 10 franks. A great place to while away a few minutes, sip your beer and people watch, except at the lunch hour.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 23, 2002
Piazza Dante 1
Before stumbling onto this haven in the city we strolled the Lake Promenade which begins south in Paradiso, another of Lugano's holiday districts. There is no bad place to view Lugano's spectacular vistas, but this is one of the best feasts for the eyes. This palm tree lined walkway curves along the lake shore north, spotted with numerous benches for lounging and admiring the natural beauty. Along the way cruise ships at docks hawk their wares, souvenir shops speckle the walk, not so many, and back across the Riva V. Vela, shops, churches, and restaurants call. It is relaxing, yet exciting, calmness looking over the water and enticement behind you with the bustle of a humming resort.
Further north the Promenade widens into the lavish Parco Civico splashed with color from lively and lush landscaped flower arrangements. Walkways curl and twist from the shore back into the trees and into a sculpture area and arena for concerts scheduled often. We strolled with no destination and admired families with their stollers, lovers with their caresses, and whiled away the minutes with carefree contentment. Children scrambled on the slides in the playground, and we watched as they laughed in the cool sunshine. This a wonderful place for a picnic and some say a stop over for backpackers.
On the rambling return trip from the marina we wandered the shore side and watched as sails puffed in the breeze and cruise ships wakes splashed the sea wall. Critters scampered from tree to tree, couples smiled and people all said Hello, while we soaked it all up for perusing later.
No fee. Park is free. Museum is 40 franks, but at the moment is under renovation inside.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 27, 2002
Via Canova at Corso Elvensia
We flagged a cruise boat and within 30 mintues were knocking at the door of this unusual Park. Inside, past the turnstile entrance, the park stretches away toward the lake, and a paved walkway twists and turns upon itself while in every corner is a replica of one of the stunning attractions of this unique country. Mountains giveway to hills, cities with monuments, and harbors humming with doll house boats on their way to doll house destinations. Through it all runs 18 working trains on 2 miles of track, that stop at stations, stop at lights and pause to let other trains go by. Even the rairoad gates work, with flashing red lights while ships pull up to the child size docks and then putter away again to another port. Toy sized Cable cars climb miniature mountains, and funiculars creep to the summits all surrounded by replicas of castles, cathedrals and other momentous buildings.
Even though there are over 120 models on display there is not an exact copy of every one of the mountains or airports, there is a symbolizing such as a lake could be Lugano, Lake Constance, a river could be the Rhine or the Rhone. Small farms dot the hills and tiny sheep and cattle are sprinkled about. Steep grey mounds with painted snow pretend to be the mighty Alps in a cluster to the rear as a backdrop.
At the entrance you will recieve a guide book (multilingual) with your ticket which furnishes Swiss history and lists with desciption all the numbered exhibits. It tells you that their purpose is to "analyze, simbolize and summarize Switzerland and then choosing subjects taken from each region for models on a reduced scale". You can follow numericaly or just stroll about interconnecting walkways and and then look up the number in the guide book. As you wander just look down to the front of each display and there you will find a small round sign that matches to the desciption with the same number in the guide book. A larger path encircles the whole park to give an overall view and leads to the playground on the left.
Spread through the entire park and planted next to the models are beautiful flowering plants like gerainiums, red begonias and yellow marigolds. Of course they are not to 1/25 to scale like all the buildings and landscape, but it does bring it all together. All so perfect.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 15, 2002
We needed to exchange money and our helpful blonde lady who spoke English informed us where we wanted to go was exactly where she was going.
"The Town Center, The Altstadt (Old City)is where it is at," she said. "Follow me."
She jumped off the bus on Via Pretorio and scurried south to the Piazza Dante and we almost lost her as we scampered around the corner from the San Antonio Chapel.
Cross the Piazza Dante, duck down the alley way on the left, Via Pelissa, go past the vegetable stands, bread market, and left at a well known jewelry store and here is the bank on the south corner of the Piazza della Reforma, home of the 1844 Town Hall, Municipo. From the wide Piazza we admired the Hall and the expanse of outdoor cafes with hovering buildings cascading with jumbles of bright geraniums. Even on the slate brick balconies of the bank pink, red and purple filled hanging window boxes splashed the walls.
Backtracking after a quick trip around the Piazza, we with trusty city map in hand, re-entered the alley Via Pelissa, home of the fresh veggie and produce market along with an open air bakery. Here we found the hungry noon time stampede. In front of the freshmeat markets vendors had set up grills for preparing bratwurst, pizza by the slice, hot dogs and behind them in the store coolers a varied display of cold green and pasta salad. You could even purchase an entree for dinner complete with side dish and then pop across the alley and buy your crusty bread and along a few feet more the wonderful strawberries for your dessert. We snagged a bratwurst and drooled over the massive display of bright and fresh produce mounded in crates for our inspection. What a smell along with the smoking grills and fresh baked bread! To add to these savory smells, on the nearby Piazza Dante a busy vendor passed hot roasted chestnuts to eager patrons.
We quickly recrossed Piazza Riforma taking Via Canova till we spied the Chapel San Rocco on the Piazza Maghetti. Known for its goulish art of saints being shot with arrows, the somewhat dark and dank church was under renovation with artists with tiny brushes in hand hung on the walls carefully applying color.
A quick turn to the east on Via G. B. Pioda amd we are on the Riva or lakeside drive. Here we stolled to the Piazza A. Mansoni a bustling plaza with bus stops, spraying fountains and man sized chess games played in the open. We chatted with the incoming tourists, took photos while they posed in front of the fountain and maintained a descreet distance from the chess competition.
Our last stop, Mondo's, Lugano's answer to the eveything store but they do it one better by not only having every article of clothing or any other article you wanted to buy, they have a full grocery, wine store, pizzeria and lavish bakery in the basement. Time for a quick beer at the Ristorante Commercianti and tour of the lavish villas along the Via San Lorenzo leading to cathedral of the same name.. The Piazzi Riforma holds on Tuesday and Friday a local market from 7-12. For those who like guided tours, in front of the Church St Maria degli Angioli every Monday morning April through October there is a FREE guided tour starting at 9:30 am.