We had a choice one day to go to Lake Como or to a place suggested by a brochure as well as the gal who did my hair in Lugano (nice folks, including Signore Barber Salvatore, but I think I was overcharged). Thinking we could hit Como and Bellagio from Milan, I steered us to Morcote (more-KO-tay), a once-thriving merchant town from the Middle Ages on a distant shore of Lake Lugano. It has a stunning cathedral with 14th C frescoes on a hill and winding, ancient streets on its mountainside. So the travel site said.

We had a wonderful, warm day for a sail, we boarded at a dock near the hotel, and I was happy in some new threads I got on a super sale in Lugano. When we docked in Morcote, we attempted to find the tourist office to get a map and figure out what to do in a day. Unfortunately, we went the wrong direction. Seeing a sign that pointed toward the church, we started to climb...and climb...and climb. One French couple about our age passed us at one rest point. He was steps ahead of her. She said he does so well from being in the army!

I remembered too late that the brochure had said there were about 400 steps up. Yikes. Just when you thought you were at the top, there were more flights.

The weather got quite warm, so we arrived at the top drenched. Again, the views were gorgeous and the frescoes, being restored, showed Jesus rescuing St Peter and the other fishermen from the lake storm. On the way, there was a classical garden with copies of Roman statues overlooking the lake, part of the estate of a wealthy family that, I believe, also financed those wonderful steps. There was also a cemetery, filled with over the top monuments dedicated to old Morcote families. Walking past it was a surprise, similar to the one we had in Schaffhausen...we found the less strenous path down another part of the mountain!

At the bottom, we had a bite and finally found the tourism office. I pointed to the map the rep provided and, in broken Italian, explained what we already did and saw. Was there more she could suggest? She looked at me over her glasses and told me to go to the cathedral and the garden. Told her we already did, and that 'sono stanco'--we are tired. No use. I left the office, and suggested to Jan that we explore 'the lovely squares' the town had. That would mean staying an extra hour and taking a bus, rather than the boat, back. We stayed, I hiked to minuscule areas that were far from being piazzas by any stretch of the imagination, saw an actually very cool tower with old family coats of arms and Venetian-styled double windows, and got on a crowded bus back to Lugano. By land took us through some lovely historic residential areas on the outskirts of Morcote, then through one of the largest shopping and auto dealership areas we had seen so far on the trip.

Next time, we'll take the road more traveled.