Lugano has plenty of attractions to satisfy serious culture-vultures, but even the culturally-challenged will be surprised by some of its treasures. Here are our favourites:
1. Villa Favorita. You’ll be left spellbound by this mansion in Castagnola and its incomparable art collection.
2. Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Angeli. This 15th century church in Piazza Luini houses some of Switzerland’s most amazing frescos.
3. Museum of Modern Art. An enormous collection of international and Ticinese artists is displayed in Villa Malpensata on Riva Antonio Caccia.
Hillsides and valleys of colour sprinkled with cool forests, an occasional village of old stone houses and picturesque waterfront frescoed resort-towns. All this, backed by distant snow-capped peaks under a Mediterranean sun that won’t quit. That’s what you can expect if you’re out for a walk around Lugano.
Dozens of footpaths cross the countryside and it’s easy to design your own walks, visiting places of interest and finishing in beautiful lakeside towns where you can catch a boat back to Lugano.
Fondest memory: Here are two sensational walks we did, and you can get more ideas from the Tourist Office:
1. Take a funicular to the top of San Salvatore, then follow any of the trails down the mountain through the villages of Ciona, Carona and Torello to the beautiful resort of Morcote. Allow four hours. Boats back to Lugano take an hour.
2. Explore Lugano’s Civic Park and the Lido before heading down Via Riviera to Castagnola and the start of the waterfront walk to Gandria. Allow two hours. Boats back to Lugano take 30 minutes.
Geography for 20 points. Where am I? The climate is Mediterranean, the people open, carefree and passionate. The trains are never late, the gardens immaculate, and everything is in its place. Italy? Switzerland? I’ll pay either.
The atlas says Lugano is in Switzerland but, as the name suggests, this picture-postcard paradise clings to its Italian roots. 8% of Switzerland call Italian their native language and live mostly in the south-central district of Ticino, separated from Italy by palm-tree studded lakes and the Alp’s lush foothills. Ticino belonged to pre-Italian states until the Swiss took it over in 1512, and it’s been part of Switzerland ever since.
Fondest memory: The idea of Italian dining, balmy climate and breathtaking scenery combined with Swiss precision and order is irresistible, yet somehow puzzling. A bit like enjoying fantastic pasta without getting sauce down your front.
Lugano is irresistible – a slice of Italy in Switzerland. We stopped for a look and stayed four days. Here are four reasons why.
Favorite thing: TICINO UNTOUR: Departures run from early May to early October. Prices include round-trip on Swissair from New York or Boston, two weeks of apartment lodging, Idyll's optional guided excursions and support services, and a 15-day second-class Swiss Pass for transportation on Switzerland's rail/bus/boat network. The price for two weeks all-inclusive, based on two persons sharing an apartment, starts at US$1,583 per person. Per person rates decrease with each additional person in an apartment. Idyll Ltd. also operates Untours in other Swiss regions and other countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain. For more detailed information, contact Idyll Ltd. at 1-888-UNTOUR1 or visit www.untours.com.
BUDGET NOTES: Switzerland is expensive, they say. And yes, it can be. But some careful planning in advance, and some comparison shopping on the spot, may save you a lot of money. For example, we stayed in two lake-front hotels, one in Lugano and one in Locarno. The second was about one-third the price of the first --120 Swiss francs per night, including a more than ample breakfast (the Swiss franc is roughly at par with the Canadian dollar) -- and although the room was slightly smaller, it was comfortable, clean and the staff brought a large bowl of fresh fruit each day.
DINING OUT: It is easy to spend 100 Swiss francs on a meal for two, with some wine. Again, watch the menus -- we found one restaurant where a large salad was 15 Swiss francs, but a tomato-and-basil pizza large enough for two was only 12.5 Swiss francs.
MORE INFO: The comfortable weather -- as early as March -- encourages outdoor dining, so buying fruit, pastry and some juice at the markets can allow for adventurous and inexpensive noon-time dining. Travel is easy -- don't bother with a car, use train and bus (they are frequent and on time), and buy a Swiss Rail Pass in Canada before you go -- they are available in a number of flexible formats. For more information, visit http://www.myswitzerland.com or call 011-800-100-200-30.
Fondest memory: MORE INFO: The comfortable weather -- as early as March -- encourages outdoor dining, so buying fruit, pastry and some juice at the markets can allow for adventurous and inexpensive noon-time dining. Travel is easy -- don't bother with a car, use train and bus (they are frequent and on time), and buy a Swiss Rail Pass in Canada before you go -- they are available in a number of flexible formats. For more information, visit http://www.myswitzerland.com or call 011-800-100-200-30.
Favorite thing: Lugano is a small town and the centre is very compact, so you can easily walk it. Start from Piazza Cioccaro where the funicular arrives. Walk into the old town passing by the little veggie market and then go right: you'll find yourself under the arcades of the fashionable via Nassa (highlight: the prices of the jewellery shops) - walk until the end - and you'll find a unassuming church: Chiesa degli Angeli. Ugly outside and decarated with amazing frescos inside: it's worth a long stop. As you leave the church go back in the same direction where you came from, but along the lake until you reach the town's park: Parco Ciani. Right outside the park there's a wooden structure - realy nice at night when lit up - it's to commemorate a local architect: Francesco Borromini, who built a lot of churches in Rome. The park is nice to stroll about and there's a villa in the middle with interesting art exhibits. leave the park from the entrance in front of the villa and cross over the road - and go across the modern (and tiny) Quartiere Maghetti. When you come out you should be in front of the Museum of Modern Art - they normally have really great exhibits too - and if you keep walking straight after a while you'll end up in a large square: piazza Riforma, the main square... there's several cafés there to sit down and relax. And behind piazza Riforma, there's the place where you started your walk from: Piazza Cioccaro
it's a bit of a cliché but for once it's true... Lugano has a bit of both Italy and Switzerland. italian charm and swiss cleanliness and efficiency. Nothing too exciting ever happens, but it's quite pleasant to spend a few days here, or even a lifetime, and it's hassle-free. On the down-side you get to pay swiss prices here (ok so this is a form of criminality maybe) - but if you are wise you can get by on a budget too: after all it's much (much!) cheaper than London, and the air is clean and free... so if you can afford London, you can surely afford Lugano. It may not be as spectacular - or as fashionable - as the big L, but I can guarantee you'll have a good time anyway. A word of warning: not many people speak English: if you know italian, french or german, by all means use them.
Fondest memory: In the summer the free music festivals - in the winter - the absolute quiet - the town goes to sleep.
We woke up in our flat at Thuner See and it was raining heavily. We decided to go to Ticino because we thought it might not rain there.
Well we went on a three hour drive, passed a few mountain passes in the pouring rain and thunderstorms, went through the Gotthard tunnel and expected to come out and the rain had stopped....only to come out of the tunnel and it was the same weather - getting even worse.
When we arrived in Locarno the streets were flooded and we could hardly drive. We went into the carpark and thought we never want to go out here again - came outside ... and it stopped!! Within 5 minutes it was really warm and sunny - and on the radio we heard later that in Locarno there was more rain in 10 mts that day than normally in all August.
visit the town of Lugano which is a cozy and clean city.
Fondest memory: There are no gaz deliver on the Italian part of the border : the prices in Switzerland are cheaper. There are no supermarket in the Switzerland part for the same reason. But there is a queue at the border even though there is no real control.
view the town from the top of Mont St Salvatore. The piccy is a view of St Salvatore from the lakeside.
Fondest memory: Dancing and signing along to Van Morrison and Buddy Guy at Estival Jazz, summer 2002, an awesome evening!
Experience all you can! Lugano is Switzerland's southernmost tourist town and offers an excellent combination of sunny days, watery pursuits and hillside hikes. It's Ticino's largest city with a population of around 30,000 and is located directly on the shore of beautiful Lake Lugano. The train station is above and west of the old town. Take the stairs down from here to the center which is dominated by piazzas. The way down is steep but I found it to be a great introduction to Lugano. There are stores lined on both sides of this steep, mostly pedestrian only, descent. The old town has winding alleyways, pedestrian-only piazzas, and colorful parks, which makes this an ideal town to walk around in. There's lots of fresh fruit displayed in these picturesque alleys, as well as baked goods, and hot foods including pizza and sausages. I stocked up on this great looking fruit as we had a long hike planned. Strolling through the old town left me with a really good feeling. I loved the mix of Italian flavor and Swiss order. Everything was so clean!
You won't find much on this page about museums, galleries, or churches as I'm not usually passionate about those things. When I'm in a naturally beautiful place such as this, I always try to get out into nature. Here, I did an extended day hike with my brother Stefan, from the top of Monte San Salvatore on to explore some little mountain-top villages and to end up at another seaside town. We then took a boat ride back to see this area from the Lake. Photo: Lugano postcard of Lake Lugano and Monte San Salvatore. Lugano has been called the 'Rio de Janeiro of the Old Continent' for the resemblance that Monte San Salvatore (912m) bears to Rio's Sugarloaf Mountain.
Fondest memory: Walking the length of the promenade on the waterfront at night with all the city lights, Monte San Salvatore, Monte Bre and a full moon. It was very enchanting.
Fondest memory: I wasn't plan to visit Lugano this time but there was a railway strike in Italy and the train did not move for the whole weekend, so my friend Elena and Marco from Milano decide to send me out from Italy to any near by city, that's why I was here before moving out to continue my journey.
Lugano is worth a trip anytime, it is a small town and in a couple of days you can see it all, but its a great base from where to take trips to the countrside. It is nice to stroll thru the streets of Lugano, sipping a hot capuccino, or enjoy one of the many flavors of icecream in one of the bars outdoors on the main square, Piazza Riforma. Great for people watching too, the ladies are very stylish and certainly worth a glance. A walk along the lake under the chestnut trees is lovley too.
Fondest memory: Lugano offers some famous open air music events, known across the border of the country. Estival Jazz, in July, first class musicians offer for your enjoyment different styles of sound for four days. Beginning of September for a weekend long, in several squares the beat of Dixie and Blues fills the ears and moves the legs of who enjoys this kind of music. People are coming from far for these events, the squares and streets are packed. Under the stars of a warm summer night you can mix and mingle with an multi national crowd, while listening to some great music.
Fondest memory: Taking walks along the Lake Lugano in summer. Everyone will be out sitting on the benches or taking walks in the park. The public pool (an area in the lake!) will also be filled with adults and children frolicking. Everything is alive yet peaceful.
Simply walking the seaside promenade. People seemed to be enjoying themselves and the beautiful day
Fondest memory: The beautiful colours of blue and green, the cleanness of the lake and the sky