Monte Lema has the most splendid view
of Lake Lugano, Lake Maggiore, and southern Ticino. The terraced restaurant
on Monte Lema, which was like a self-service take-out, offered us a variety
of simple lunches. The terrace had a wood planked deck-like floor and long
picnic tables with benches where we perched to eat our lunch, watching
the magnificence of the view with mountains, lakes, and in the distance,
cities glowing in glorious colors.
While admiring Lake Lugano from the
top of Monte Lema, we met a couple from New Jersey who told us that they
went on a magnificent day cruise on the lake. Anyway, if there is water
with a sightseeing cruise on it, be it a lake, river, or an arm of the
ocean, something forces me to it. My husband has lasting memories of a
few hilarious and difficult boat and water related adventures I pushed
him into, but our boat trip on Lake Lugano was pleasant and calm.
Cruises sailed off almost every hour
or several times during the day. At about lunchtime one day, we boarded
a white and turquoise boat with "Navigazione Lugano" written on the side
On the boat, we went up to the top
deck, and as we sailed, the cool lake breeze, the beautiful dark blue lake
surrounded by lush, green covered Alps that looked like moss hills, and
the lakeside towns and villages boasting of colorful flowery patches made
us forget about the lunch served on board. Such extravagant richness of
nature and beauty of the sights humbles a person and makes him think how
lucky he is to be there to witness it all.
Alps around Lugano, though quite
high, seem more rounded at the peaks than those in mid to northern Europe,
as were the people who seemed to be smoother, friendlier, and more open
in their ways, for Lugano offered us the warmest human contact. "Benvenuti,
benvenuti!" Everywhere we went, we were welcomed with open arms.
In Europe, one thing different from
the US is that Europeans do not drink tap water, except maybe in a couple
of places in France. If one asks for water, one has to be ready to pay
for it. Also, each locality has a special way and means of imbibing its
favorite drinks. In Lugano, they drink wine from small bowls called boccalinos
and their after dinner drink is a walnut liqeur Ratafia.
The food, too, tasted excellent,
but that may be because I am partial to Italian cooking. In the northern
Swiss cities, the food is delicious in a local sense, but extremely pricey,
especially if one ate all his meals in a restaurant.
English is rarely spoken in Lugano,
and if spoken, it is very difficult to understand. Something similar happens
with my Italian. I can somewhat understand Italian if I force myself, but
if I try to talk it, what comes out of my mouth is a distorted Spanish.
Despite the language barrier, I met the nicest, warmest people in Lugano
and if I dare study Italian again, it will be because of the people of
Lugano and my wish to visit this fantastic town and to hear, one more time,
a sweet-voiced tenor's singing just for me.
Lugano is a great city for walking
tours, for there are many things to see and experience. Besides the Via
Nassa and the Swiss Banks, there are the lakeside promenade, narrow streets
of the old town, St. Mary's Church, parks, flowers, the sweet smells of
oleander, lemon, and magnolia, museums, outdoor cafes, lake breezes, and
the strong cappucino that is served at almost any place, and of course,
that divine food: polenta, ossobucco, pastas galore and my favorite crusty
bread and formaggini, which is goat cheese topped with olive oil and coarse
pepper. I can safely say that the best food I ever ate was the Italian
food in Lugano. Lake Como
Shopping in Lugano is an adventure.
Unless you've hit the lotto, it is better to stay away from shopping on
the cobbled Via Nassa. Rolex, Gucci, Versace, and many other too hot to
touch stores are on this pedestrian-only street where it is great to walk
up and down if only to dream Cinderella dreams.
Several years have passed since I've
been to Lugano but the memory stands shadowless, still delicately injecting
its splendor into my life, making me hope--in my next vacation--to visit