The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur In Italy
July 30 - Lugano, Switzerland

This is the winding down portion of our trip, so we thought we would keep it easy and just drive around a bit. We went north along the west shore of Lake Maggiore and then southeast to Lugano, Switzerland at the head of Lake Lugano. Not that there is a lot to see in Lugano, particularly on a Sunday at vacation time, but I have some fond memories of the place that needed a nudge. My mother and I shared a bottle of wine, some bread and cheese in the park there on a trip to Zurich in 1970. The park is still there and was a wonderfully cool oasis on an otherwise hot day.

There wasn't much open, but we stopped into a Movenpick outlet at the edge of the park for a quick lunch. Movenpick is a large Swiss foodservice company and I was interested to see how the "pros" were doing it these days. The waiter arrived promptly, took a drink order and set out place mats. He returned with the drinks and a basket of rolls to get our food order. We decided to eat lightly and asked if he had any sandwiches. He did, and after he took our order, he removed the placemats and silverware and took the rolls away!

Service was typically inattentive and we had to ask for everything we wanted . . . when we could get the waiter's attention. Their menus looked more professional than anything we have seen on the trip, and the dessert menu even had pictures of all the offerings. We wanted something sweet but decided that it was too much work to try to get it from Movenpick, so we got gelato along the lakefront instead!

After a false start, we found the road to Levano where we could catch the ferry across the lake. There are some fantastic villas around these lakes, most dating back hundreds of years and many with very ornate painted details.

The ferry is an exercise in confusion. There is a queue in front for cars getting on the boat . . . but you have to buy a ticket inside before boarding, a fact that it not noted outside. So the boarding process is choppy as drivers try to drive on and are stopped for lack of a ticket. They pull over to the side a little and run inside while the other drivers try to maneuver around them! All the while, the walk-on passengers are swarming everywhere in front of the cars. It is amazing that the ramp is not littered with bodies, but somehow it all manages to work.

We wound our way up to the house for a few hours snooze before dinner . . . and found two helicopters in the back pasture! Apparently they give rides of the area. It is definitely and easier way to get up the hill and might be something to consider for tomorrow.

Dinner at the hotel was once again huge, excellent and cheap! We got a little smarter and did not come down to eat until around 8:00 -- they really don't want to see anybody until then anyway! The process went a little faster tonight than last night -- we were out by 10:00!

Lugano and Levano

Helicopters at Il Monterosso

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