A few weeks ago we spent a long weekend in the Italian side of Switzerland. We’ve been wanting to visit the canton of Ticino for a while, but with snow forecast in the Geneva area and a forecast of sun and high 50’s in Lugano, the time seemed right. In fact in Locarno, a neighboring town in Ticino, they claim to get 2300 hours of sunshine a year. With its milder climate, delicious pasta, and Italian language it’s hard to remember that you’re still in Switzerland!
There were lots of palm trees and a small park full of them next to our hotel. But despite the palms and claims of sunshine, there was a definite chill in the air! Our visit was during the off season so we didn’t have to fight any crowds, but unfortunately many of the tourist attractions (mostly the funiculars up to the mountain peaks) were closed.
We arrived on Friday afternoon and were surprised by the great view from our hotel room. When we left Geneva it was rainy and dreary but about 4 hours away in Lugano, the sun was out! Our hotel was Ikeadorable and had an indoor pool, which mostly made up for the fact that it was a steep 15 minute climb from the center of town.
We had fun walking around down by the lake and taking in the scenery. There were already some Christmas lights out, but the big Christmas tree in the main square wouldn’t be lit until the next weekend. The town was cute and we were happy to find restaurants that were open before 7 pm unlike here in our area!
On Saturday we drove over to the town of Locarno since it was only about 30 minutes from Lugano. Locarno is on Lago Maggiore, the second biggest of the Italian lakes. We had read about the funicular up to the Santuario della Madonna del Sasso-a church built in 1480 with impressive views over the town. Again our timing wasn’t the best because the funicular was closed for renovations, but luckily it was an easy drive up to the top. This time our timing actually was perfect because the sun setting over the valley was absolutely stunning.
Saturday night we went back to Lugano where we enjoyed dinner semi outdoors in this lovely passageway. The service everywhere we went was very warm and welcoming.
On Sunday, we took the one funicular in town that was open up to the top of Monte Bre. Lovely views, but the restaurants at the top were closed and it was downright cold at the top, so we didn’t stay too long.
It was a great little getaway and if we are here long enough, we’d like to go back to this area in the summer. We wanted to visit Bellagio on Lake Como, only about 45 minutes from Lugano, but there just wasn’t enough time to squeeze it in. All the more reason to go back!