It is Monday, March 23, and we have (once again) awakened to new restrictions. Now we are not permitted to go outside for exercise and we are strongly discouraged from even going to the grocery store more than once a week. If and when we do go to the grocery store, only one member of the family is supposed to go. I wake up early after another fitful night of sleep, determined to venture to the la...
What a treat to hop on a train in Milan and an hour later arrive in a different country! We will be visiting Switzerland often, I predict!
The morning before our departure, Kevin went off to school and Becky and I ventured out to the fresh market just outside our apartment. The air is slightly cooler now, so the clothes and shoe choices in the various market stalls have turned to fall and winter items. Never have I seen such an immediate wardrobe change as I’ve seen among Milanese these past few days! Almost overnight in Milan, one sees no open-toed shoes, and most women are wearing pants, light jackets and scarves. This, even with the temperature remaining in the mid-70’s and low- 80’s! I must say, however, that watching a handsome senior man dressed in glorious blue cashmere with a beautiful scarf draped around the neck is nice.
Morning coffee made in our Moka Bialetti pot on the stove must have made quite an impression on Becky because she decided she wanted a similar pot for her apartment in San Francisco. Off we trekked to the Duomo stop and the Bialetti store where pots of all colors and sizes awaited us. Kevin and I chose a bright red pot for our home- Becky chose a tamer tan color. Naturally when we got home, we had to try a second cup of coffee. We were wired for the day!
We stayed around the Duomo for lunch and I took Becky to Luini’s for a Panzerotti. It’s a take-out spot where you stand in line, order a fried bread stuffed with your choice of ingredients (my favorite is the salami and mozzarella), and sit on nearby steps to eat like the locals. The bread is sweet, almost like a doughnut taste. High calories- check!
We met Kevin at the train station late afternoon, and off we headed to Lugano, Switzerland. Lugano, like Como on the Italian side, is a town along the glacier lakes bordering Italy and Switzerland.
The history of the hotel reminded me of the Grove Park Inn in North Carolina. It was built by blasting rock along the hillside long ago when there wasn’t much to the town. The feel is warm, cozy and German. Breakfast was expansive and included with the room. There is a nice outdoor pool for warmer days. The hotel now has other buildings surrounding many sides, but we could still look out our window and get a glimpse of Lake Lugano across the street. The lake is beautiful and the city charming. There are many high end shops along the pedestrian-only avenues, harkening back to the days when Italians, Germans and Americans would visit and take advantage of the Swiss banking rule that allowed one to deposit funds in bank accounts without the Swiss government reporting it to other countries. Those days are gone, but the many bank offices and beautiful stores and restaurants remain.
Lugano is not an inexpensive place, as I hear is true of Switzerland generally. The currency is the Swiss franc. For dinner, I coaxed Kevin into sharing a cheese fondue with me, which we were both pleasantly surprised with. In addition to bread for dipping, there were potatoes, pickles and other fun items to try. It was delicious!
On Saturday, we stored our bags and headed to Monte San Salvatore via the local funicular. The view at the top was majestic and provided stunning 360 degree panoramic views of Lake Lugano, Milan in the distance, and the Swiss and Savoy alp mountain ranges.
There are hikes from the top, of varying lengths and difficulty. We ventured toward the church at the top and took a moment to remember Kelly on her birthday in the small chapel.
Kevin and Becky ventured on another brief hike while I relaxed by the children’s playground, enjoying the scenery.
Our last Lugano adventure involved taking an 80 minute boat ride around the lake. It was more of a water taxi, as we made about 10 stops along both sides of the lake, where small hotels, restaurants and homes were tucked into the steep sides. Perhaps the next time we visit, we can try one of those little hotels- the views were beautiful! Another excursion I read about that sounds interesting involves a falconry demonstration.
We took an afternoon train back to Milan, dropping Becky off at the Hotel Villa Malpensa near the Malpensa airport (which I highly recommend for people arriving late into Malpensa, or leaving early in the morning). Dinner was great and the wait staff were kind to all the kids enjoying dinner with their parents before a flight the next morning. http://Www.hotelvillamalpensa.it
We have just completed a wonderful month of visitors- Mom (Grandma Suz) was here for 2 weeks (during the rough apartment hunting phase in the hot sun!) and overlapped one night with Becky, who sandwiched 2 visits to Milan in between a fun time with her good friend Caroline in Portugal. We are settling into routines and enjoying our surroundings, blessed to have spend the past month with visiting friends and family!