Lugano, in the Canton of Ticino, has everything an Italian town could offer, and more! Except that its Italian-speaking denizens are proudly Swiss. Lugano claims to have the most hours of sunshine a year in Switzerland and I could see why it is so. While the evening of my arrival in Lugano was greeted with heavy downpours, the next day awaited me with a clear blue sky and scorching heat.
With palm tree-lined promenades, gorgeous sunny weather, colorful piazza and palazzo, I could not help but to liken Lugano with other Mediterranean towns. Yet, the similarities end there. The vast expanse of beautiful Lago di Lugano (Lugano Lake) has nothing to do with the Mediterranean sea and the lofty mountain peaks surrounding Lago di Lugano are more Switzerland than anything else.
A short downhill walk from Hotel Montarina, where I stayed overnight, brought me to the chic precinct of Piazza R. Rezzonico and Piazza Della Riforma with café-lined squares serving almost nothing else but pizza, pasta, gelato (ice-cream) and freshly-brewed cappuccinos. I took a boat across Lago di Lugano to a yacht terminal where the local bus service ferried me to the top of Monte Brè (660m) where the postcard-quality photos of the city and Monte San Salvatore are normally taken. Actually there is a funicular train that serves the route between Cassarate to Monte Brè, but the service was closed due to uprooted trees that cut down the power supply the night before.
On top, the view of Lugano and the sugar-loaf peak of Monte San Salvatore is awe-inspiring. This is probably one of the few locations in the world where you would stand by the retaining edge and shout “I am on the top of the world!”. If any guidebooks try to correlate the view with that of Rio de Janeiro, trust me, it is pretty close!
After such a memorable visit, it is hard to imagine a vacation Switzerland without experiencing the impeccable beauty of Lugano.