Picture postcard Gandria - well it was the pictures of the place that I looked at when I was at also picturesque and Lake Lugano lakeside Morecote that set me to go visit after a verbal recommendation.
A few minutes drive from Lugano heading for Monaggio along the Michelin recommended scenic route gets you to the well signposted parking area for Gandria, along with a couple of commercial establishments on the roadside, notably the Gandria Restaurant. You can park up at the parking area, with automated ticket machines, or take your lot to take the side road that turns off a little further on and takes you down to the half way area where there is a bit of parking and public WC (next to the church that takes prominence once youre below the main road level).
Whereever you park its a matter of wherever you want to head - there are paths in various directions - heading down, across or back up!
Noticed at least a couple of foody places - Pizzeria and so on - down there too.
Head on down to the waters edge - you will see the boats moored in a communal area with a boat ramp - and also private moorings along buildings without public access.
Resturant Gandria also has rooms for lodging - currently closed for the festive season but opening again for business on 22nd Jan - prices dont seem too bad - 100 swiss francs for a double, 70 francs for a single. Menu list advertised seemed pretty good with reasonable prices. And of course with what a view!
Theres also good signposting for pathways walking to and from Lugano or wherever around the place!
The Chiesa di San Vigilio (church of saint vigil) was built in 1563 but has been renovated and altered throughout the centuries. The facade as you see it now is baroque, but look at the south wall and you'll see remnants of the old original church.
If the church is open take a look inside for some baroque stuccos and a gothic statue of Saint John the Baptist. Otherwise you're left with the bell-tower made of stone.
She says she saw a pizzeria on the road with a “zimmer/camere/rooms” sign in the window. We’re desperate, so go there and inquire if a room is available. The owner, who is working the noon rush, responds with "possibly." He asks us to sit down while he and his wife are busy running the restaurant – all interactions are conducted in Italian and sign language. After 2 hours of eating tagliatelles with fresh porcini mushrooms, prosciutto pizza, drinking wine, sitting in squishy socks, dripping water on the floor under my seat and playing with their little daughter, they show us a room with a lake terrace view. The room is neat, clean and $110 less that our booked room, and includes breakfast. No question that we are pleased to have a place to dry out and sleep. However, the accommodation does have a few drawbacks. The room is very long and narrow, with two bunk beds lined along a wall like train cars looking out the balcony. The toilet was down the hall and shared with the other four rooms – but at least we had our own shower and sink. There was no air conditioning, but a cool breeze sprang up on the lake at night.
The owners, Ishmael, Omir, and their 11-year old daughter, Damla, were fantastic, and we ate, drank, and had good laughs with our Lebanese or Egyptian hosts, none of whom spoke English. Joan inquired about the white and black flag that flew in front of the restaurant. Ishmael said it was to “free Corsica,” but that was all we could understand, between his Italian and our English. On our last night, the restaurant closed the regular menu and Ishmael grilled the Saturday night specials -- lamb chops or galleto alla grilglia (grilled chicken). We ate, drank more of the excellent local white wine, and sat around listening to Edith Piaf French café music in the restaurant.
From Gandria it is possible to take a lovely lakeside walk to Lugano... the path is wide and well-kept, and the sights amazing. The distance is not too great (only 30/40 minutes) and it is mostly flat, except for the stone and concrete steps near Gandria.
Once in Lugano, you'll find yourself in the Castagnola area, near the museo delle culture extraeuropee. If you follow the road going slightly uphill after 10 minutes you will arrive to the main road, from where you can take a bus to the city centre.
Gandria is a very tiny village with just over 200 inhabitants, and it is in the Lugano area It's located right on the slope of the mountain, down at lake level... it is one of the best-preserved traditional fishing villages.
What is there? The village is pedestrian and there are very narrow cobbled lanes all over - there are houses right ON the lake, with boats parked right under them as there is no harbour or beach. All around the village the vegetation is great: olive trees, fig trees, cedars.
A must see if in the area, but not on Sunday: the few little shops close for the day. Do not ask for the logic, as it is the day when it gets the most tourists. Saturday is possibly the best day to visit.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory is getting there - on foot, although you can also reach this village by bus, car or boat... but the footpath from Lugano is truly stunning.