Thursday, March 29, 2018

Road Trip to Lugano, Switzerland

Wednesday, 28 March, 2018

Rain was in the forecast for the next three days so I decided to take advantage of today's good weather and cross the nearby border into Switzerland.

After looking at the cost of train tickets and the amount of travel time by rail, I decided to drive towards the Alps.

The Swiss border is only a 20 minute drive from the Villa Skorpion and I wanted to explore the lakeside city of Lugano located just another 20 minutes past the border.

Lugano is the largest city in the Swiss canton of Ticino. It is an important financial, conference, banking and business center.

Lugano lies on a bay on the northern side of Lake Lugano surrounded by spectacular mountains.

The morning drive north was both traffic free and scenic.

I found an underground parking garage at the start of Lugano's lakeside drive, parked the car and started exploring.

The parking garage is under
this art museum

Picasso Exhibit

I thought about it but decided to explore the city instead.

Still though, I was hungry and there was a nice looking café stand just outside this museum.

A cappuccino and a Sacher torte

What a great way to start a fine Swiss day!

Until the bill came.

More on that at the end of this post.

The view of Lake Lugano
over a cappuccino

Lugano on the left bank
of Lake Lugano

Just four Swiss men scratching
their arm pits in public

What's unusual about that?

Santa Maria degli Angioli

By European standards, this was not much of a church to look at from the entryway.

Although . . .

There were some nice frescoes
on the side walls facing a
rather serene courtyard

Originally built by the Order of Franciscan Observants, construction began in 1490, the church was founded in 1499 and then consecrated in 1515.

Colorful but deteriorating frescoes 

A bold family crest

And another

I see a rounded red cross

What about you?

With minimal expectations I entered the church.


Let's take a closer look at the frescoes painted by Bernardo Luini.

Perfect subject matter
as this is Holy Week

A closer look

St. Sebastian

Emperor Diocletian had him martyred for his faith in 288 A.D. by having Roman soldiers shoot him full of arrows.


If you think St. Sebastian
had it bad . . .

This poor fellow got a deadly rash from his leotards!

Saintly monks

The Last Supper

Thursday night, Christians all over the world will re-live this event.

One last fresco before leaving

My appetite for frescoes was fully sated, or so I thought, thus it was back to exploring Lugano's pedestrian only historic center.


George, Laurie, Andy, Mike . . .

As usual, GREAT beard!

The Devil you say!

I already own a personalized
Swiss Army Knife

A good souvenir from our season coaching the Thun Tigers just south of Bern, the Swiss capital city in 2012.

Lugano is full of arcades

These arcades are usually located in European cities with cold, wet weather as a way to protect potential shoppers from the elements.

The Mexican Consulate
above Les Ambassadeurs

A powerful relief

A good looking toy store
that has . . .

. . . something for each of
our three grandchildren

Gucci and Art

Both expensive I suspect.

No water running but still
nice looking

The obligatory food market photo

Setting up for the annual four day
Easter weekend festivities

Maybe I should drive back up here on Friday or Monday.

Lugano also has
Los Angeles Rams fans!

Lugano's City Hall

Angry Runaway Prisoner?

Wise Cleric

Who knows?
I just liked it

One of Lugano's big piazzas

It should be noted that Switzerland has not one but four official languages, German, French, Italian and Romansh.

The southern part of Switzerland where Lugano is located is an Italian speaking region. Thun, where I coached in 2012, was a German speaking region of this Alpine country.

Spring Time in Lugano

One of those world famous
Swiss banks

No Bull!

A freshly painted fountain

Fantastic building

One of those white hats
was tempting me to buy it

San Rocco Church

I know it broke all of there rules, but I entered anyway.

OLD Holy Water Font

More frescoes were found
in San Rocco

Opulent ceiling

Good backdrop for a sermon

Side altars are always nice

A view across Lake Lugano
from a bistro

Good looking motorcycle

 Eros Bendato
A sculpture by Igor Mitoraj

I interpreted it as a man's head having exploded off from his body in reaction after getting his cappuccino bill from the waitress.

Definitely not a WWI or WWII
war dead memorial in
historically neutral Switzerland

Interesting building . . .

. . . it says here that they welcome
Pilgrims and Wayfarers . . .

. . . it must have been a hostel
back in the day

Just your average
Swiss Postal building


Great word.

Pedestrians through a
blown glass window

The Madonna of H&M

Swiss Chocolate!

I was strong once again.

More produce

The Swiss has amazing
looking paper money!

Great to pay for the more amazing, astronomical Swiss prices!

Lunch time beckoned

A pork sandwich and a Fanta
hit the spot!

Still strong!

Classic Art, Classic Prices

Mountainous Switzerland

Serene Waterfront

A photo op of a photo op

A lake cruise on a boat like
this one is on the agenda!

But only once Laurie arrives.

Easter Flowers

Cuban cigars

Another strong temptation, another "NO!"

About that cappuccino and Sacher torte
that I had for breakfast

Deep in the recesses of my mind I recalled that Switzerland was an expensive country.

Unfortunately, it stayed in the deep recesses of my mind a bit too long.

I had almost stopped for a quick breakfast on the Italian side of the border but, with my excitable exploration juices flowing, I kept on going to Lugano.

Now, I must admit that both the cappuccino and Sacher torte were outstanding!

My head detaching issue occurred when the bill arrived.


In Italy, a cappuccino usually costs either 1.30 € or 1.50€.

In Lugano, my delicious cappuccino cost me FOUR EUROS!

I was OK with the price of the Sacher torte though, as it was so good that I believed it was worth it at any price, even the seven Euros they charged me.

But 4€ for a cappuccino . . .

When I got back to Venegono Inferiore in the late afternoon, I stopped into the Esselunga Supermarket to pick up a few odds and ends.

I bought these eight items plus . . .

. . . some tasty shrimp for my salad

Why do I mention this you ask?

Just take a gander at the bill for this nine item supermarket spree . . .

. . . all for a mere 13.90€!

As I found out once again, Switzerland's scenic beauty comes with a severe price tag.

Now I better understand why so many of my Italian neighbors and teammates live in Italy but work across the Swiss border to make much higher wages than they would in Italy.

Team photo of our all victorious
U15 team last Sunday

I spend most of the first two hours of our four hour Tuesday and Thursday night Skorpion practice sessions helping to coach this talented group.

Their effort nightly always puts a smile on my soul.

Speaking of American football . . .



David said...

I was not surprised Switzerland was expensive when I visited.

I was surprised that the Swiss seem to be offended if you mention it.

I'd still live there in a heartbeat (Bern, in particular) if the opportunity presented itself, though.

George said...

Bern is a great city indeed!