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Lugano: A Piece of Italian Heaven in Switzerland    by Joy Cagil
Switzerland is a multi-language country. While we were there, we found French to be the main language in Geneva and Neuchatel. Later, we encountered German as the most used language; however, in the south, some very warm-blooded Italians surprised us by talking in Italian inside the pleasant coolness of the Swiss canton Ticino situated at the Italian border.

We first witnessed Lugano in Ticino from Monte Lema, a southern Alp with a modern cable lift. You didn't think I would hike up there, did you?

Sitting inside a cable lift is almost like flying, although I am not into flying unless inside an airplane. I am not into paragliding either. Yet, we enjoyed the sight of numerous paragliders in most places over the Alps especially around Ticino

Cheese Stall Outside Cheese Shop on Via Pessina, Lugano, Ticino, Switzerland
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 of it.

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 wedding photographer

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 Lugano again.

About the Author - Joy Cagil is an author on a site for Writers (http://www.Writing.Com/) Her education is in foreign languages and linguistics. In her background are varied subjects such as psychology, mental health, and visual arts, and she loves to travel. 

De La Paix Hotel Lugano
Housed in a pastel-toned 18th-century building, the Hotel De La Paix is situated 200 metres from the lake and two kilometres from the city centre. The hotel offers two dining options: the Neptune restaurant serves a range of international and Italian dishes in a traditional setting with a garden terrace, and Al Barilotto is an informal, rustic restaurant offering grilled meat, wood-fired pizzas and salads. Guests can sun themselves on the hotel's garden terrace, enjoy a relaxing dip in the outdoor pool, and round off the day with cocktails in the La Cupola bar. The hotel provides both garage parking (surcharge) and complimentary outdoor parking. The Museum of Modern Art and the Swissminiatur open-air museum are both within five kilometres. The Chocolate Museum is ten kilometres away and the Fox Town outlet stores and Bellinzona's castles are within 30 kilometres. Lugano-Agno Airport is five kilometres away and takes approximately ten minutes to reach by car. 
Grand Hotel Eden Lugano
Overlooking Lake Lugano, the Grand Hotel Eden is a contemporary hotel located on the Paradiso Promenade, within five kilometres of Sorengo. Lugano town is within four kilometres, Muzzano is six kilometres away and Milan is 75 kilometres from the hotel. Lugano Airport is seven kilometres away, and takes approximately 15 minutes to reach by car. The hotel offers two dining options: the Oasis restaurant serves a wide range of a la carte Italian dishes in an informal, modern setting opening onto a terrace overlooking the lake, while the Lotus Wine Bar offers snacks, drinks, cocktails and a selection of cigars in a relaxed setting with nightly entertainment. At the hotel spa, guests can go for a refreshing dip in the indoor pool and enjoy some relaxation time in the sauna, eucalyptus steam room or on the sun deck. Health-conscious guests can work out in the fully equipped fitness room.
Holiday Inn Lugano Centre Lugano
Offering a friendly atmosphere, this property attracts all type of holidaymakers for a pleasant and tranquil stay in Lugano.  Situated in the residential district of Paradiso, the Holiday Inn is within walking distance from a beautiful lake and promenade. The hotel also has an easy access from the Swissminiatur Park as well as the Modern Art Museum and is just 6 kilometres from the Lugano Agno Airport. Beautifully decorated, the hotel's 92 guestrooms are modern, bright and come with all the contemporary amenities to provide you a comfortable and pleasant stay.  You can dine at the onsite restaurant that serves delicious American buffet breakfast as well as traditional Mediterranean cuisine and later enjoy a refreshing drink in the Admiral Bar.
Hotel Parco Paradiso Lugano
The Parco Paradiso is a contemporary four-floor hotel sited 100 metres from San Salvatore mountain and 200 metres from the shores of Lake Lugano. Energetic guests can swim in the indoor pool, work out in the fitness centre and enjoy a game on the squash court. Those in search of relaxation can head to the sauna and steam room or pamper themselves with rejuvenating massage treatments. Diners can sample Mediterranean fare and panoramic lake views on the terrace of the traditional restaurant, or enjoy authentic Japanese cooking in the teppanyaki-style restaurant. After dinner, guests can relax with over drinks and cigars in the Cuban-style bar. Hiking and mountain biking are available in the surrounding mountains, with San Salvatore 100 metres away and Monte Bre two kilometres away. Sailing and water sports are available on Lake Lugano, 100 metres away, alongside sightseeing tours and romantic evening cruises. Scherrer Park is four kilometres away and the picturesque village of Gandria is five kilometres from the hotel. 
Lugano Dante Swiss Q Hotel Lugano
Boasting incredible service and convivial atmosphere, the Lugano Dante Swiss Quality Hotel is an excellent venue for a fabulous vacation.  Located in the heart of Lugano, this property is just a few steps from the lake, shopping centres, entertainment venues, convention centre as well as the financial and business districts. This property is easily accessible from the Lugano Train Station and Lugano-Agno Airport.  This hotel offers 83 beautifully appointed accommodation units that are adorned with all the standard amenities to ensure you immense pleasure throughout your stay.  Guests can start off an exciting day with a delicious buffet breakfast served at the breakfast room as well as enjoy aperitifs, snacks and refreshments at the cosy bar.
Villa Sassa Hotel Residence & Spa Lugano
Set amid lush parkland with views over the lake, the Villa Sassa Hotel & Residence is a Mediterranean hillside property located three kilometres from Lugano Old Town and the lake. At the hotel's 2,000-square-metre wellness centre, guests can work up a sweat in the fitness room, enjoy a refreshing dip in the indoor and outdoor pools, and relax with a sauna, jetted tub and Turkish bath. The hotel also houses a beauty parlour, hair salon and solarium, and younger guests will be kept busy in the kids' club. Guests can choose from two dining options: the Al Giardini di Sassa serves a wide range of local and Mediterranean dishes in a modern setting with a terrace area overlooking the lake, while the informal, modern lounge offers snacks, drinks and light refreshments.  The historic town of Luino is 25 kilometres from the hotel, and the city of Varese and Lake Como are both within 50 kilometres. Lugano Train Station is at a one-kilometre distance. Lugano Airport is eight kilometres away and takes approximately 15 minutes to reach by car.


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Latest update: May 11, 2019