A Good Walk: Lugano

Begin at Piazza della Riforma, which is dominated by the Palazzo Civico, or Town Hall. Look up to the gable above the clock to see the city's coat of arms. (The building also houses the tourist office, whose entrance is lakeside.)

On the western side of the square, Piazza della Riforma bleeds into Piazza Rezzonico, which contains a large fountain by Otto Maraini dating from 1895.

Heading out of Piazza della Riforma on the north side, onto Via Luvini, you come to Piazza Dante, which is dominated by a large department store and a bank. From here, if you pop over one street east to the busy Via Pretorio, you can get a look at Lugano's oldest building, the Pretorio (1425), at No. 7. Back at Piazza Dante, turn left down Via Pessina, which leads you into Piazza Cioccaro, on your right. Here the funicular from the train station terminates and the typical centro storico (Old Town) begins, its narrow streets lined with chic clothing shops and small markets selling mushrooms and pungent local cheeses.

From Piazza Cioccaro, walk up the shop-lined staircase street of Via Cattedrale. The street curves left, ending at the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo. Take a moment to enjoy the view from the church square.

Head back and then south along the waterfront promenade known as Il Lungolago, and at the Imbarcadero Centrale (Central Wharf) take the underpass to cross the road, coming back up at Piazza della Riforma.

Leave the piazza at the northeast side through a portico onto Via Canova. After crossing over Via della Posta/Via Albrizzi, you come to the Museo Cantonale d'Arte, on your right.

Continue straight ahead to the 17th-century church of San Rocco, with its neo-baroque facade. Turn left onto Via Carducci before you reach the church and find the small orange-tile pedestrian entranceway into the Quartiere Maghetti—a town within a town. It's a tangle of streets full of porticoes, little squares, shops, and offices—a modern take on old forms, created in the early 1980s by the architects Camenzind, Brocchi, and Sennhauser.

Exit the Quartiere Maghetti onto Via Canova (behind the church) and continue east, crossing Via Stauffacher. On your left is the open Piazza dell'Independenza. Cross over the wide Corso Elvezia to enter the Parco Civico. Inside the grounds, in addition to the nearly 15 acres of greenery, is the Museo Cantonale di Storia Naturale.

From here you can spend the afternoon at the Lido, the city's public beach and pool, just east of the park across the River Cassarate.

Head back to town along the waterfront promenade and take in the stunning mountain views: straight ahead, the rocky top of Monte Generoso (5,579 feet), and flanking the bay at right and left, respectively, Monte San Salvatore and Monte Brè.

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