In the span of 2 days 7 girls embarked on a trip to Lugano only to discover more than they had bargained for. Sam put it best as:
5 Hours there and back (roughly)
4 Flights of stairs to our room
3 Beautiful Cities
2 Paddle Boats
1 Amazing Roadtrip
We started off early Saturday, June 5 and piled into the van. All of our stuff packed into the trunk, with snacks and water we embarked towards the East. We crossed through the French speaking parts into the German speaking parts, said Guten Tag to some swiss army guys, went through the longest tunnel EVER, crossed through the Alps and landed in sunny Lugano among the Italians, palm trees and brightly colored buildings.
Our hostel, the Hotel and Hostel Montarino, was beautiful and by hostel standards quite nice! As soon as we checked in, checked we had sunscreen and checked facebook we were off to explore the city of Lugano. We saw the Cattedrale San Lorenzo, a beautiful Renaissance church, the Piazza della Riforma, a square filled with cafes, music and Gelato, the Palazzo Civico, a Neo-Classical town hall, the San Rocco, a Gothic church, and the Villa Ciani, a beautiful building that houses the Museo Civico di Belle Arti. We also walked around the lake and took the most beautiful pictures! At one point in the day we rented paddle boats and enjoyed a relaxing (partly because I wasn't doing the paddling) boating adventure along Lake Lugano. We stopped and had Pizza for lunch which was molto deliziosa :-)
For dinner we had a great time on the terrace of our hostel eating food we bought from the grocery store. We each got to learn a little more about each other and had one of my favorite evenings in Switzerland. After an evening walk around Lugano, one last bottle of wine and some ice cream we were off to sleep in preparation for the next day!
Our original plans were to spend another day in Lugano but we became a bit travel-zelious and decided to travel to Bellinzona and Locarno as well! I am so glad that we went to Bellinzona, Locarno, meh... but Bellinzona was so Beautiful!!!
See? I told you it is Beautiful! I'm in love with the Italian architecture and Roman Castles. The city was so picturesque although it was quite dead since it was a Sunday. Just to let you know a bit about Bellinzona it was a fortress town from Roman times. "During the Middle Ages the Dukes of Milan built three castles here, enabling them to defend this strategically placed town (it's located in a valley on the route over the great Alpine passes) and controlled traffic passing through the valley. It is now the capital of Ticino. Here's the view walking up to the Castle Grande. The Chiesa Collegiata dei SS Pietro e Stefano (a Renaissance monastery church) is in the background.
After our trek to the Castle we were able to walk around the Castle grounds and walk where more than 1000 years ago Romans were standing. I couldn't stop thinking about how long and hard it must have been to build such a castle. It was constantly being added onto but even so the amount of work put into such a fortress is so unfathomable for me. I am always so surprised to see what man is able to create. It reminded me of being in Helm's Deep from Lord of the Rings. I kept imagining people running around the castle walls with bow and arrows trying to defend Bellinzona from horrible beasts. :-)
After we toured Bellinzona, had a brief parking lot fiasco we were off to Locarno! Once we arrived we were all super tired and started looking for "cheap" food. We didn't have that great of an experience with the waiting staff for lunch and it put all our moods down a few notches. That combined with the deteriorating weather and fatigue we all felt we didn't really do much or any exploring of Locarno. Instead we got some Gelato and watched a beach volleyball match that was going on. After that and a bit more of Gelato we piled back into the car and started our journey towards the West.
All in all I thought that our trip was a terrific one filled with good food, good wine, good friends and good sights! Can't wait for my next adventure! Where that will be? I honestly don't know yet!