LAKE AND MOUNTAINS FROM ABOVE
The views from the Piazzale della Stazionein Lugano are incredible as it is on a high point from which you can see the tower of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and part of the historic centre with the contrast of the lake behind and all the surrounding mountains: San Salvatore, Generoso, Brè, Boglia, Camohe, Bar and Tamaro. This site is known as the Lake Terracefor its beautiful views. Here, you will also find some places to grab a bite and have a drink. Halfway up to the lake terrace from Piazza Della Reforma, you will find the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, dedicated to St. Lawrence of Rome.
It is a building with a Renaissance façade with valuable frescoes by Bernardino Luini and Baroque decorations inside. It was founded as a parish church in 818 and later became a collegiate church in 1078. It was built as we see it today between 1447 and 1522 by the architect Giovanni Antonio Amedeo. The façade was completed in 1517. The original Romanesque building was oriented in the opposite direction to the present church. The remains of the medieval apse found underneath the current building proved that this was true. It has been a cathedral since 1888 and the seat of the bishop since 1971. It only takes about 8 minutes to get there from Piazza Della Riforma in the centre of Lugano, although you´ll have to add the time it takes to visit the cathedral.
The Piazzale della Stazione is about 60 metres from here. Another option is to take a 3-minute taxi ride for 20-25 Swiss francs one way. A bit expensive, but faster way.
Piazzale Stazione, 6900 Lugano.
Address of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo:
Via Borghetto 1.
THE RED GOLD OF THE ALPS
Saffron Risotto is a typical dish of the Ticino region, whose capital is Bellinzona, although Lugano is, in many ways, its main town. This dish has a clear influence from the neighbouring Swiss canton of Valais. This is a creamy rice dish seasoned with the so-called "red gold", Valais saffron.Saffron is the three stigmas of a purple flower that grows in different parts of the world, such as Morocco, the La Mancha region of Spain and Iran. In Switzerland, it only grows in the village of Mund in the canton of Valais.
The dark red pistils have to be harvested by hand. 360,000 flowers are needed to produce one kilo of this spice. For this reason, the price of this condiment is extremely high, and it is known as "red gold". It is essential to have good quality saffron, to prepare a good saffron risotto. Europamundo gives you the recipe so that you can prepare it at home:Put butter in a boiling frying pan and when it is melted, add a finely chopped onion and two cloves of garlic. Stir everything and then add 350 grams of risotto rice and fry it all together.
Next, cut four tomatoes into cubes and add one or two teaspoons of thyme and one and a half teaspoons of saffron threads.Pour about eight decilitres of previously heated meat or vegetable stock over this mixture and stir continuously, ensuring that the rice is always covered. Leave to cook for about 25 minutes until the rice is creamy and al dente.In addition, slowly fry fifty grams of diced bacon until it is very crispy. Then remove and leave to dry on kitchen paper.In a frying pan, add margarine to fry about 400 grams of veal, which we have previously cut into fine pieces.
After about three minutes, remove it, add salt and a little pepper and mix it all with the risotto, serving it immediately so that it does not get cold. Lugano has several places to eat a good risotto.
The most famous and accessible ones are in Piazza Della Riforma.
Piazza della Riforma, 6900 Lugano.
WHAT THE GODS EAT
Via Nassa is the most important shopping street in Lugano. Parallel to the lakeside promenade in the city centre, it is an exquisite street with arcades so they can protect us from rain, snow and sun. It has 270 metres of arcades lined with shops of all kinds, as well as shopping centres. There are plenty of things to buy on this street, but one of the best souvenirs you can leave with is, of course, Swiss Chocolate: Swiss chocolate is one of the country´s best known and most famous products, as are Swiss watches, banks, cows and Swiss army knives.
Switzerland does not grow cocoa, as its climate is not suitable for that, but it has more than enough cows to make its famous milk chocolate. Cocoa cultivation has its origins in Mexico and the entire Mayan area. Nowadays is mainly grown in West Africa, Central and South America and Asia. The largest producer of cocoa today is Ivory Coast.Chocolate was a product consumed in Mesoamerica 3 500 years ago by the Olmecs, who prepared a drink from the seeds of the cacao fruit, believing it to be a gift from the gods. This drink was bitter, without sugar, and was spiced with chilli. The Mayas and Aztecs also consumed it.
Cacao seeds came to be used as a bargaining chip. A Toltec legend says that the god Quetzalcoatlstole the plant from other gods, planting it in Tula and asking Tlalocto water it and Xochiquetzatl, goddess of love, to give it the most beautiful flowers. Later, he gave it to the human race so that they would be well-nourished, studious, wise, artists and artisans. This drink became a symbol of wealth and was drunk only by warriors. The Spanish brought cocoa to Europe, where its consumption spread, and in 1870 the first chocolate bars with milk and sugar were created.
Chocolate began to be produced in Switzerland in the XVI century, with the Ticino region being one of the few that produced it.The XIX century brought a great awakening of its production with the emergence of brands such as Suchard, Cailler, Kohler, Teuscher, Tobler, and many others such as Stella SA were born here in Lugano. With the invention of milk chocolate by Daniel Peter in Vevey and the homogenisation by Rodolphe Lindt, its export began in the second half of the century. Trade restrictions put the brakes on its export, and, today, more than 50% of its production is consumed by the Swiss.
It is estimated that Swiss consumes 11 kilos per year, making them the world´s largest consumers. Exports are mainly to Germany, France, Great Britain and North America. Profits from this industry amounted to CHF 1.4 million, with a total production of around 150 000 tonnes in 2004.Sweeten your life! Most of the shops on Nassau Street are open until 6:30 pm on weekdays. On Saturdays, they are open until 5:00 pm and are closed on Sundays. You can buy chocolate at the Coop supermarket on Nassa 22.
Vía Nassa, 6900 Lugano.
PIER GATE TO THE LAKE
The best photo in Lugano is undoubtedly against the backdrop of its famous lake of the same name and the mountains that form the natural border with neighbouring Italy, from among which Mounts Generoso, Brè, San Salvatore and Boglia stand out for their characteristic shapes. Arriving in town, you´ll have those great views of the lake and its crescent-shaped Lungolago avenue, so it won´t be hard to find great spots for snaps. But there is one special spot inside the Ciani Park (Parco Ciani).About 100 metres from the park entrance, you´ll find a metal fence as a hypothetical gateway to the lake.
The photo from this particular spot will enrich your pictures with this gate blending with the blue waters of the lake and the view of the mountains in the background. In addition, the gardeners at the park would normally have decorated the foot of this gate with colourful and beautiful flower beds.Lake Lugano, like most lakes in Switzerland, is an alpine lake of glacial origin. Its glacier was formed about 10,000 years ago during the last ice age. The lake, also known as Ceresio, forms the border of the Swiss canton of Ticino with the neighbouring Italian provinces of Como and Varese in the Lombardy region.
A little further south, its waters reach the Po River, the longest river in Italy, in the Padan plain, which collects a large part of the water from the Southern Alps and flows into the Adriatic Sea.The lake is 48.7 square kilometres in size, with a maximum depth of 288 metres. It is at an altitude of 271 metres above sea level and is very rich in fish, with fishing permitted except in protected areas. In addition, fossils abound throughout its southern part.The whole crescent that forms the coastline of the city of Lugano has beautiful and abundant places to take a good picture of the lake and its neighbouring mountains.
However, thanks to its floral decorations, the most special ones can be taken from Ciani Park. From Piazza Della Riforma, after a short walk of 6 or 7 minutes, leaving the lake on your right, you will reach Ciani Park. Walk about 100 metres in the same direction that you came and you will find the wonderful gate. It is open until 11:00 pm.
Parco Ciani, 6900 Lugano
VILLA CIANI, THE ELEGANCE OF THE PALLADIAN STYLE
Villa Ciani is a neoclassical building located in the park of the same name. It´s not a place you usually pay much attention to, even if you´re strolling through the park. The view of the lake and the beautiful gardens tends to distract you from everything else, but this is a lovely villa that you can visit, and we assure you it´s worth it. Villa Ciani is a three-storey building in Palladian style, with an octagonal belvedere and a cylindrical tower. It was built in the XVII century and was entirely renovated by the architect Luigi Clerichetti between 1840 and 1843 at the request of the brothers Giacomo and Filippo Ciani for the private use of their family, who were originally from Ticino.
The brothers were exiled in France and England before returning to Lugano in 1830. The villa welcomed many exiles from Italy during the period of the Italian Risorgimento. It was also the site of the private residence of the Sforza family from Milan.The city of Lugano expropriated and bought the villa in 1912, making it the seat of the Cantonal Natural History Museum and the Museo Civicoof Fine Arts, still preserving some paintings and sculptures of that period which are part of the collection of the Villa of Lugano. Today it is a unique civic heritage site, witness to the historical development of the canton of Ticino with its elegant frescoed rooms and its permanent collection, including the sculpture "Desolation" by Vicenzo Vela. Each of its floors is between 385 and 500 square metres in size and can be visited in its entirety.
It is also equipped with a lift to facilitate the visit. It has 30 rooms and is connected to the Convention Centre by an internal passage.The first two floors are decorated with frescoes, the first floor retaining the original woodwork. This palace is offered for conferences, receptions and weddings in the Sala degli Specchi (Hall of Mirrors). This is the largest and most prestigious hall, with direct access to the park via a stone staircase.
Villa Ciani is located in Ciani Park, just 500 metres from the city centre. Shortly after passing the park gate, you will see it 50 metres on your left.Adults pay CHF 10, and children from 8 to 15 years old pay CHF 5.
Villa Ciani, Parco Ciani, 6900 Lugano.
WILLIAM TELL´S APPLE
We suggest you look for a statue that represents one of the most important moments in the history of Switzerland. It is a character you will have heard of in your childhood: William Tell. William Tell is a legendary figure from the XII and XIII centuries who emerged during the XIV and XV centuries, combining ancient traditions with the most important historical period of the formation of the Swiss Confederacy.
Although he was considered a real character for a long time, the lack of data or historical documents contemporary to his supposed life, which is based on literary texts dating from after his alleged actions, means that today he is considered a mythical character.
According to these legends, William Tell, or Wilhelm Tell in German, was a native of the village of Burglen in the canton of Uri. He was a famous crossbowman who passed through the town square of Altdorf with his son and refused to salute a hat placed by the invaders of the House of Habsburg depicting their supposed ruler. Such a display of defiance led governor Hermann Gessler (also known as Albrecht Gessler) to sentence the crossbowman to death.
Given his reputation as a marksman, he forced him to shoot an arrow at an apple placed over his son´s head 100 paces away with a promise to spare the punishment if he hit the target. Despite Tell´s pleas to change the punishment, Gessler did not relent. William Tell slipped two arrows into his quiver, firing one of them at the apple that hit the target. When asked why he had taken two arrows, Tell replied that the second was intended for the governor´s heart if the first one missed and wounded his son.
Enraged, Gassler arrested him again and put him on a boat across the Lake of the Four Forest Cantons (or Lake Lucerne) to be taken to the castle at Küssnacht to be imprisoned. Once on the ship, a tremendous storm made the boat unmanageable. The guards had to release Tell so that he could help them take control of the vessel. Arriving safely on the other shore, Tell escaped only to kill Governor Gessler in an ambush later.This mythical episode represents the actual historical moment when the three Swiss cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden united forces to form an alliance against the invading crown of Habsburg.
This culminated in 1315 with the Swiss victory over Leopold I, Duke of Austria, and the creation of the Swiss Confederacy, the origin of modern-day Switzerland.
Your challenge is to find this statue.As clues, we can tell you that it is next to the lake, that it has a water fountain at its feet, and that very close by, there is an ice-cream parlour that precedes the Ciani Park.
THE SECRET OF FRESCO PAINTING
The small lakeside church of Santa Maria Degli Angioli, which once belonged to a Franciscan monastery, holds a hidden secret which is the most famous fresco of the Swiss Renaissance. The work Passion and Crucifixion of Christ was created in 1529 by Bernardino Scapi, also known as Bernardino Luini. The latter name was given to him because he was originally from Dumenza, near Luino in the Lombardy region.On the left wall of the nave, Luini painted another fresco of The Last Supper, and on one of the four side altars, another of The Virgin and Child.
In his paintings, Luini repeated designs by his master, Leonardo da Vinci, imitating his physical figures. The technique of fresco painting is very ancient. It has been used for millennia, as in the palace of Knossos on the island of Crete as far back as 3 400 years ago. However, it is closely associated with the Italian Renaissance period because of its extensive development during that period.The technique involves the application of dry pigment on a thin layer of plaster. Although some frescoes are applied on dry plaster, it is usually wet when the paint is applied, hence the name: fresco.
A good fresco should be painted directly onto freshly mixed plaster due to its natural stickiness when wet, making it difficult for the painter who has to rush to apply the coat of paint before the plaster dries.This church will surprise you because of its inside, something that you could never have imagined if you had only walked past it. The outward appearance probably wouldn´t have invited you in without knowing what you´ll find inside.
The church is located just 5 minutes from the Piazza Della Riforma. From this square, and along the Nasa shopping street, parallel to the river, you will reach the Piazza Bernardino Luini, which bears the painter´s name.It is open every day and the access is free of charge.
Vía Loreto, 16. Lugano.
LUGANO´S NATURAL OASIS
If there is one beautiful walk you can´t miss in this city, it is along the lake to the beautiful Parco Civico Ciani. This park is an oasis of greenery and flowers (rhododendrons, tulips, daffodils, pansies) that you can find all year round, but more so in spring and summer. Its trees are majestic and well-nourished by the lake´s waters and those that come underground from the mountains.
Furthermore, if you go all the way to the end of the park, you´ll find a small beach usually full of swans, ducks and other birds.The facilities extend over 63 000 square metres and have pedestrian walkways to enjoy strolling around. There are plenty of benches to sit on if you´re tired or want to grab a sandwich, and it has free public toilets. The park has two areas; the first is a well-kept garden, a mixture of Italian and English park around the Villa Ciani. The second part, from the pier to the Cassarate river, is wilder and more primitive.
Among the trees, there are foreign species, but most of them are native to Ticino, such as lime trees, oaks, plane trees and maples. Its leaves give a unique colour to the park in the first part of the autumn season.There are also playgrounds for children and some buildings such as the Palazzo dei Congressi (House of Congress), the Cantonal Museum of Natural History, statues, the mooring and the cantonal library.The lake views are spectacular, with the silhouette of Mount Brè and Mount San Salvatore standing out on the other side.Spend some time strolling around this beautiful area and breathe in the pure Alpine air.
The park is part of the Gardens of Switzerland, which brings together the most beautiful parks in the Swiss Confederation.From the fountain where the tourist buses stop, you only have to cross the main street carefully or go through an underpass, where you will also find free public toilets.
Parco Ciani. Lugano.
A COFFEE AT THE BEATING HEART
Piazza Della Riformais the beating heart of the city of Lugano, where everyone will pass through sooner or later.It is a large space strategically located between the lake, the city´s shopping area (including the elegant Via Nassa) and the hill where the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and the Piazza Della Stazione viewpoint are located. The Reformation Square, translated to English, was known as Piazza Grande (Big Square) when it witnessed, in 1798, the struggle between the Cisalpiniand the Voluntari Luganesi, in which the latter were victorious and succeeded in making Ticino independent from the central government that Napoleon had established.
In 1799 the editor of the progressive journal Gazzeta di Lugano, Abbot Vaneli, was assassinated there. ThePalazzo Civico(Civic Palace) is the main monument in this square and was built between 1842 and 1844 as the seat of the current town hall. At its foot, you will find the tourist office if you need any information about the city.In 1870 the Caffè Federalewas built under the porticoes of Garini and became the bar of the conservatives, not admitting the liberals. The Piazza Della Riforma is a typical Italian square.
Its buildings have terraces and balconies with flowers, and there are also bank branches with ATMs where you can withdraw money using credit cards if necessary, but remember that they will give you Swiss francs. Plan how much money you´ll need to withdraw for the days you will be in Switzerland.In front of the town hall, there are several options of cafés and restaurants, whether you want to stop for a quick drink and a rest or if you want to sit down for lunch on one of the terraces.
You will enjoy the colourful atmosphere of people passing through this neuralgic point of the city, with tourists taking photos, locals going to shop or to work, or simply people sitting down to read a newspaper, something that, believe it or not, still exists. It is a quiet but busy place. Piazza Della Riforma is the centre of Lugano; it´s located just 50 metres away from the tourist bus stop and the lake.
Caffé Federale, Piazza della Riforma, 6900 Lugano.
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