We headed to the mountains yesterday with the hope of finding a little cooler weather. We had to take a couple of trains but we made it to the top of Monte Generoso. The views were breathtaking and we got to hike around. On a clear day, you can see across Switzerland and Italy. We were able to see Lake Como from the top.
The mountain is actually on the border of Italy and Switzerland.
Oh there are so many choices…how can I ever choose one?
We chose this one. It looked pretty flat from the top.
Why did we hike down…now we have to walk back up.
What a great day. I’m pretty sure I could hike in the Alps everyday. A farmer let their cows and sheep out before we made it back to the train. There might have been one cow that made me run in the other direction. They are a lot bigger when they walk right up to you. It was a perfect last day in Lugano.
Here are more pictures:
Here is a little extra video of some of the towns in Como as well as the drive to Como on the bus. (I didn’t realize the videos didn’t download before I posted the earlier video.) The bus ride was very interesting as the road wasn’t always wide enough for two lanes. The bus would honk every time we went around a blind corner.
We used Lugano as our base for four days to explore the surrounding areas. The city itself is a banking city and it is lively during the day and very quiet once the work hours are done. This has made it a little hard to find dinner sometimes. There was one pasta place that we really wanted to try but we weren’t here around lunch time and it always closed by 5:30 so we never made it there in time. Since Lugano is a little bigger than other cities we have stayed in, we were able to branch out and have other cuisines besides Italian food lunch or dinner.
We spent one day walking a long the lake for an hour and half to a very cute little village on the lake. It was a nice hike but it was very hot on the trail. I was happy to take a boat back. I’m sure we saw more of the surrounding areas than the city itself but I like exploring the trails and smaller towns.
We took a day trip to Lake Como from Lugano yesterday. It is only an hour bus ride, but it is mostly on very narrow winding roads. The bus had to honk anytime it came to a curve to warn the drivers coming the other way. I was happy to leave the driving to professionals today.
We arrived in Menaggo, Italy and took a ferry to Bellagio where we wandered the streets for a couple of hours. The villages are built on hillsides so I got plenty of climbing today. The weather was pretty perfect to walk in the shady little cobblestones streets. We then took the ferry from Bellagio to Varenna which was another cute town. I really don’t think pictures can really show how beautiful the towns are.
I don’t know a lot of Italian but haven’t had any problems getting around (unlike the first time I tried to visit Lake Como and ended up on a school bus heading the wrong direction for a couple hours). I do like hearing hearing Italian as I’m walking down the cobblestone streets.
We left Riva this morning and decided to take the scenic route to Lugano since we had time before we could check in to the next hotel. Good thing we left when we did as traffic was very bad in Riva. I can’t imagine how bad it would be later on a Saturday when people arrive for the weekend.
The drive was pretty as it was along the west side of the lake. There were a lot of tunnels but overall it was pleasant. We then took the highway around Milan and headed north to Switzerland. We had to pay a lot of tolls in Italy and then when you get to Switzerland, you have to buy an expensive sticker for your windshield that is good for the whole year. I was hoping that I would get lucky when I picked up my rental car but the windshield was clear of stickers.
We walked around the city a little this afternoon. There were hundreds of kids wandering the streets in groups. This weekend, all of the youth choirs from Switzerland are singing in Lugano so they are in every square and corner singing. I’m looking forward to seeing the city and surrounding areas in the next four days.
Riva has been a great base for the last 4 days. We stayed at a hotel about a 20 minute walk from town. They have a nice path to walk on right next to the lake. We had nice weather everyday and it has been very relaxing to sit by the lake.
We tried to go for a hike today but there were so many mountain bikers that it was too stressful having them fly down by us. (You can see the trail from the lake.)Here are some more pictures of the town.
And lastly, here is dinner from the last night here 🙂 On to Lugano, Switzerland tomorrow.
We spent Thursday taking a a boat trip to a couple of towns near by. Of course, this was the day the water was very choppy so it made it very windy riding on the top of the boat. You will hear a lot of wind in the videos. At the start of the video, you will see how calm the lake was on Wednesday when we walked to a nearby town. There is windsurfing and sailing lessons every morning. I’m sure if I picked to do a lesson, it would be the very windy day.
We took a boat trip to Limone Sul Garda and then over to Malcesine. Limone sure sounds a lot like lemons, doesn’t it. They used to produce a lot of lemons here until it became too expensive to compete with southern Italy. The town actually isn’t named after lemons though. It actually used to be the town on the border of Austria and Italy in the early 1900’s and the name Limone comes from the Italian word for border. Both towns were charming with small stone lined streets. Limone does try to sell the whole lemon thing though and they do make fantastic lemonade there. Limone has 1,000 residents but 1 million tourists visit a year.
You might notice some columns in some of the photos. That is where they used to grow the lemon trees. In the winter, they would be able to cover the area with glass to help protect them from the winter weather.
I haven’t taken pictures of Riva yet but I have a couple of stories that make me laugh.
The first one, I don’t have a picture or video of and I’m sure you are glad about that. We missed the lunch hours yesterday because we were driving until we could check in to the hotel. This happens to us a lot in Europe because the check out and check in times don’t really work well with when restaurants are open. So we walked around Riva and found that some places were actually open to eat here. We picked one restaurant that had a couple eating outside so we wouldn’t be the only ones eating at an “off” hour. I went in to use the restroom and it was just one bathroom for both sexes. The only issue was there was no toilet. I went in right after a guy and he was still outside the door washing his hands. I opened the door to make sure I was in the right room but that was the only door. There was just a white porcelain tray on the ground with a hole in it. I have heard of squatting toilets in other countries but I have never used one. The tray still was able to flush so I don’t really understand why they don’t install a toilet unless they just want people to laugh.
The next story is from today. We were walking to the next town on a nice trail next to the water. We decided to stop at a bench in the shade to put sunscreen on. I was taking pictures and I heard a noise, which was Bridget’s sunglasses falling in the lake. Luckily we stopped at the place where scuba divers get into the water so there was a large rock in the water before the steep drop off. Since I could see them, I ignored the sign that said for scuba divers only and rescued the glasses. The water was actually very refreshing although the rock was a little slippery. At least I could pickup the glasses with my foot 🙂 (The water was very calm when I went in the water. Immediatly after I got out, the water became really choppy. I think new glasses would have been in the afternoon if the water was like that all the time.)
We left Bolzano yesterday and drove south to Riva del Garda on which is the most northern city on Lake Garda. Lake Garda is the biggest lake in Italy.
Since we had to check out of the hotel around noon and couldn’t check in until 3 at the next place, we decided to take back roads to the lake instead of taking the highway. (Doing this also means we avoided tolls so I’m fine driving a little longer to not pay.). The drive started through vineyards, through the fruit trees and then around the mountain pass.
Here is a quick glimpse of the drive. Yes, the windshield is dirty 🙂
Merano is a 30 minute drive from Bolzano. It is a little higher up in the mountains but has one of the most beautiful gardens at Trauttmansdorff Castle. It is no surprise that I could spend a lot of time walking around the gardens. It is recommended that you spend 2 to 6 hours there. One of the nicest things about traveling to this region is there aren’t many tourists besides tourists from the area or an adjacent country. Even though we are in Italy, German is the common language here. Everyone speaks German and Italian so we have gotten by using German.
Here is a short video of our day in Merano:
And here are a couple of my favorite pictures 😉