The weather is often very different on the opposite side of Switzerland, because the country’s Alpine backbone breaks up the clouds and airflow patterns. On this cloudy day in Zürich we hopped a Eurocity train to Lugano, through the Gottard Base Tunnel (the longest railway tunnel in the world), and popped out into the sunshine on the Italian side of Switzerland. Once in the pretty lakeside city of Lugano, we walked the streets of old town, dined on pasta and pizza, and strolled along the lakeshore. I climbed up to Parco Panoramico, to catch some panoramic views across the lake and the city to the Alps beyond. Read on, and check out the gallery of photos.
I could see a funicular railway, its base just a few blocks away, so I scurried over and hopped on. This train, first operated in 1890, only started running winter operations last month. My lucky day! Like all funicular railways, it has two cars connected by a cable and a pulley – one car travels downhill while the other travels uphill. The San Salvatore funicular is unusual, perhaps unique: passengers ride the bottom car halfway up, then transfer to the other car, which they ride to the top while the bottom car returns to base. Its carriages have now been in operation for 130 years. cool!
Soon I was at the summit of Monte San Salvatore, a stony peak that dominates the southwest corner of the city, with its 360º views of Lugano, the surrounding lakes, the Alps beyond, and even Milano (Italy) to the south. From here you can see the small village of Campione d’Italia, across the lake – a fascinating village, it is legally part of Italy but is completely surrounded by Switzerland. As the sun settled down toward the mountains in the west, and the shadows crept up the hills around Lugano, I caught the funicular back down to the city. A fine place to visit – and I hope to return in spring, to explore the surrounding hills and mountains.
The views were fantastic, so I’ve posted a gallery of photos. If you’re interested in following our adventures, by RSS or email, please click “Follow” at right.