Lake Lugano

While not the likes of the lakes Como, Guarda, or Maggiore, Lugano has its quaint charms. Like Guarda, it appears to be a place Italian families like to go for holidays. The area near the marina, is all narrow parkway, fit for walking and biking. The views are romantic, especially at night when the villages across the bay hugging the side of the mountains light up. 

The area is the furthest south you can go in Switzerland and still not be in Italy, so the culture and signage is mixed. The food should have been a great amalgam, as in Strasbourg. Alas, no, though fresh fish was good.

Our hotel, the Victoria, dates from 1881 and may even be owned or run by the same family. I saw a leathery old fellow, well perfumed, in the elevator the first day I went out and he bore a strange resemblance to family portraits on display in the breakfast room. Our little balcony faced the bay and mountains and was nicely appointed, except for the bucket by the wall into which moisture from the wall A/C dropped. Though no one warned us, if the timing was off after the maids cleaned and the bucket was too full, one of us had to dump it quickly into the tub while the other held the siphon aloft (!)

We were also above the hotel restaurant, a just okay establishment where folks ate, drank and smoked until late, fritto misto fry scents rising along with the tobacco smells. No longer on the outskirts of an 1881 lakeside village, the hotel was also on a fairly busy road that ran along the shore to the center of town. Vespas, trucks, buses. As quaint as the A/C was, we were glad for it at night when we had to close the windows and shutters.

Lugano has an old Franciscan church or two and some older buildings from the late 1600s to the early 1900s, has several squares with good people-watching restaurants and performance spaces for musicians, a park, some art museums and several shopping areas.  An outdoor Lugano summer festival was still going on, so we were able to catch some classical music one night when our nearby restaurant wasn't playing their own, but got clear of the square the night they were preparing for a rock concert. The town is on a hillside, and has a large lakeside park, so some city hiking can be done. We didn't. I gave up on some of my clothes and stocked up on some sale items in the shops and we took some day trips.