Thursday 10th – Monday 14th September
Just an hour’s train ride north of Milan and we found ourselves in Switzerland. The beautiful city of Lugano sits on Lake Lugano, which is partly in Italy and partly in Switzerland. And despite being on the Swiss side of the border, the feel in Lugano is still very much Italian, from the language to the food.
Lugano is an enjoyable mix of business and pleasure. The lakefront is absolutely beautiful. On arrival we soon found ourselves looking out at the view that tourists have loved for decades. The Civic Park, just a short walk from the city centre, is a particularly great spot to enjoy everything the lake has to offer.
At the same time, Lugano is Switzerland’s third biggest banking centre. The designer shops and incredible array of expensive cars on the streets suggest a very wealthy, working city. And the age of some of the bank buildings we saw suggests this is nothing new.
Friday 11th September – birthday celebrations
For us, the main event in Lugano was 11th September – my 40th! Thanks to my sister Claire and her family, I even had a special T-shirt to mark the day!
We decided to spend some of the day taking two funicular railways to the summit of Monte Bre, which gives stunning views across the lake.
In the evening, we found a great restaurant for some excellent pizzas and a very nice glass of Swiss wine.
We had a restful few days in Lugano, and the fantastic food and drink made it a great place to celebrate my birthday. We have also been enjoying learning about the history of this fascinating country. The country has four official languages (Italian, German, French and Romansch) and is clearly influenced by its neighbours. But it has existed as an independent nation since 1291.
Its politics are also unique. Its neutrality has been in place for hundreds of years, and formally recognised since 1815. This has led to the country being an important international base for a range of organisations from the World Health Organisation to the UN. We can’t wait to see some of the other dimensions of the country.
Car of the day
At first glance, I thought this car in the car park of our hotel was a Smart Car. It was certainly about the right size and shape. Then I noticed the Aston Martin badge! The leather interior wasn’t too shabby either. Not sure it’ll be the next Bond car though!