Visiting Italian Switzerland
Lugano, Ascona, and Locarno  (September, 2010)
On Saturday, September 25th, the weather in Zürich remained cold and rainy, so Irmi and I boarded a train for a
three hour ride south to Canton Tessin (the Italian region of Switzerland) where temperatures typically hover ten to
fifteen degrees (F) above the rest of the country.  As expected, by the time our train exited the Gotthard Tunnel and
began to descend the Mediterranean side of the Alps, the rain had stopped, and the sun broke through the clouds.
We exited the train in the city of Lugano and walked 
downhill through the old part of town, toward the lake.
Wandering the narrow streets, gazing into the storefronts,
it was difficult to imagine that the inhabitants of this place
were Swiss, as most spoke exclusively Italian and displayed
    typically Italian character traits.  It felt like a foreign country!
Only small delivery vehicles were allowed in the inner city.
Ron, below the city center, on the shoreline of Lake Lugano.  The lake forms one
 border with Italy, and the mountain range in the background lies within Italy.
Irmi, strolling through a park along the lakefront.  The entire area is a free wireless "hot zone,"
so, while Irmi forged ahead, I sat on one of the benches in the background and powered up my
iPhone to view the results of the previous day's baseball games back home in the United States.
The park contained many square acres of manicured lawns and gardens.
The gate to nowhere.  A striking setting, and beautifully crafted, but functionally useless.
Lovely Irmi posing before a placid Lake Lugano.
Boarding a local bus, we traveled twenty minutes to the small town of Ascona,
 situated on Lake Maggiore and surrounded on three sides by steep hillsides.
Ascona projects pure Mediterranean charm, with a laid-back atmosphere, soft 
pastel colored buildings, sunny outdoor restaurants and shoreline promenade.
With the promenade to the right, and restaurants just out of sight beyond that, the hill in the
distance is THE preferred location for a vacation apartment; however, the structures are built 
so steeply that driveways and garages are architecturally impossible.  Cars are parked in small
niches carved from the roadside, and owners walk to their apartments down steep staircases.

Boats available for hire, with a small private marina in the background.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, those are palm trees . . . in Switzerland.
As in many other locales, watching the sun set is akin to a national sport.
Deeper into town, we happened upon this secluded entrance to someone's home.
The stonework of this church, against a starkly contrasting azure sky, caught Irmi's artistic fancy.
With mountain shadows lengthening, we boarded a bus for Locarno,
the third major city in the area, for one last hectic hour of sightseeing.
With our return train to Zürich scheduled to depart shortly, we hustled two blocks to Lake
Maggiore and snapped one last photo to capture the end of a great day and save it forever.

                    Click here to return to Home Page.