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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Trip Report Lugano to Lake Como by train, by bus, and by boat, but....NO TAXIS

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Let me say about this trip: I wish I had planned less and seen more. Rather than try to squeeze in both Umbria and Puglia in the middle of our 5 week trip, I wish we had left Puglia for next time, and explored Umbria in more depth.

However, this was still the opening act. We landed in Zurich Sept. 9, travelled to Lugano on Sept. 12, and a few days later, on to the western shore of Lake Como.
We found both lakes very slow, maybe because we usually like to hit the ground running, in a large city like Rome or Paris. Relaxing at the lakes would probably have been more enjoyable after a busy segment of our trip, rather than at the beginning.

From there, we trained to Verona, where we stayed for 4 nights, before heading for Venice on Sept. 20. Second act still to come.

(Re-posting this section with its own title, separate from my Zurich report)
Our train ride from Zurich to Bellinzona was underwhelming. I had imagined green valleys with high mountain peaks visible as we were whisked along Lake Zurich and through the Alps, maybe even some dizzying heights at some point. I was hoping for Julie Andrews singing "The hills are alive...."
As it was, it was raining, the valley was a beautiful photoshop enhanced green, only naturally so, but we didn't see many mountain peaks as we rocketed through the middle of the mountain in the Gotthard tunnel.
It's a different world on the other side. It's Italy in Switzerland, a different language and different landscape. Palm trees grow here.

Arriving in Lugano by train, we just step off the train and onto the funiculare. It blessedly saves us a long walk down the hill with luggage.
At the bottom, 10 steps away is our hotel, Dante Center Swiss Quality Hotel. Nice, clean, quiet, a/c, every amenity, and Italian hospitality in abundance.

Anyone shopping for a new Swiss wrist watch will be happy in Lugano. There are many expensive shops, BMWs and Mercedes Benz, men in business suits, banks on every corner, and women dressed smartly and wearing those stiletto heels on cobblestones.
Swiss banking in Italian language.

We find an outside patio that is open, and relax with a glass of red wine. People watching is an important pastime in a new destination; theme for the day, footwear. Shoes tell a lot about a soul....

The wine has our appetites going and we try a R. Steves' (OMGosh) recommended restaurant, Il Tinero. It serves local dishes in a rustic atmosphere. Risotto with porcini, and Osso Bucco with same, followed by zabaglione for dessert. Predictable but delicious.

In the morning, we decide to hike up the stairs to the top of the town, for the view, which is charming.

A busy main street follows the edge of the lake through town. Here are situated the grand old hotels, palazzos from the late 1800's, and the parks and gardens, backed by beautiful green foothills of the Alps.

In contrast to the business suits are docks, pedal boats, and ferries loaded with tourists bound for the small towns edging the lake.

It's very windy today, but clear skies, so we take the ferry to picturesque Gandria, where we climb to the top of town for the view, then have lunch on a patio overhanging the water.

It must be difficult owning a restaurant where mealtimes are planned around ferry arrivals and departures, but we have a decent lunch, served courteously and in time to catch our return boat.
A pleasant afternoon is finished off with a stroll along the waterfront down to the grand old hotels. We were looking for a nice spot to enjoy a glass of wine while overlooking the lake, but by this time, the wind had really picked up, and it was cold.

So, we walked back to town to reserve at the ultramodern restaurant that our hotel recommended, but alas, there was a Mercedes-Benz unveiling and reception there that evening, so we had to be content with ogling the super fresh looking 'crudo' crudités (and the new Mercedes!) that were ready and waiting for the crowd.

We slipped into a little hole in the wall local place a few steps off the tourist plaza,
Harry's Bar, where we had due bicchieri of vino rosso. Mama brought a plate of fresh bread sticks wrapped in prosciutto. Total cost 5 Swiss francs. A little Italian goes a long way in Switzerland!

La Cucina di Alice: Recommended by our hotel, it was our new choice for supper. Service was superb, presentation was good, but the food was so-so. Il Conto: Swiss francs 193. Not worth it.
Exhausted from all the walking, and the carbs, we settle into our comfy bed for a good sleep.
A new day dawns. Back up the funiculare, good-bye to lazy Lugano, hello Postale bus to Lake Coma (still fighting jet lag).

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