Lake Lugano

What a lovely location on the Italian Switzerland border on the banks of the lake. We feel very spoilt to have had the opportunity to stay here. 

 The location has been great for jaunts into Switzerland and around the Italian lakes and I think we’ve made good use of our time. The highlight for me has to be going up into the mountains and we managed this twice. Once via Lacarno on Lake Maggiore on my birthday. From there we were able to take a funicular, a cable car and finally a chair lift up to the top of Cadada at 1,350m. Lots of snow and beautiful views across the lake and surrounding mountains. 


The second occasion was more energetic, and rates as my favourite day out here. It involved us doing the work, and walking to the top of Mounte Generoso. We went up, from Mendrisio, on a mountain road that really wasn’t for the faint hearted. Glad that Roger was driving as I would have wimped out. The road, most of which was single carriageway, with cars travelling in both directions, and in the case of the Italians and Swiss, travelling much too fast in my opinion, was well maintained, but in most places kerbless, with a dramatic drop down the valley! The road got into the snow line and a parking area, with the road continuation being closed off. By the side of the road was a small snowy hill where families were sledging and having a fantastic time. We parked up and went up the path signed for Mounte Generoso. There were quite a few walkers, many of whom had snow shoes. We hoped that we were suitably prepared! A beautiful walk that was steadily up hill all  through snow. After about two hours we arrived at just below the peak where we stopped for lunch in the sun, then did the last push for another 20 minutes or so to the peak at 1,705m. Fantastic. Generoso is situated in about the middle of the arc of the Alps so we had a fantastic panoramic view of them as far as the eyes could see, together with our three lakes, Maggiore, Como and Lugano. You could even see the Matterhorn in the distance. Stunning and the sun shone all day. Such a fantastic day out and so beautiful to be out in the snow and the sun. 


We had a day out in Milan, catching the train and spending time at the cathedral and just getting a feel for the city. Climbing up onto the roof of the cathedral was a highlight of this day and seeing the city from this view point was great. We also took a visit to La Scala, the famous opera house. We had a trip into the museum and as there was a rehearsal going on we were able to watch this through glass from one of the boxes. Even through glass it sounded fantastic and the orchestra was stunning. Such a fantastic auditorium, so different from most that we have in the West End. C shaped with 6 layers of boxes around the edge. Quite stunning, it would be good to see a performance there. There were loads of posh shops, but we didn’t spend any time there. 




You can’t be in the Italian lakes without taking some boat trips and we managed two. One of Lake Como, from Menaggio to Bellagio. Two beautiful lakeside villages full of windy streets and passages, and glorious views. We particularly like Bellagio. It lies at the tip of the triangle formed by the two southern branches of the lake  (Lake Como is shaped like an upside down Y) so the views across the lake are particularly splendid and the steep cobbled alleyways very quaint. Our second trip was on Lake Maggiore. We travelled from Laveno to Intra. Towns not as pretty, but the lake is so beautiful and the sun shone on this trip which meant we could sit outside on the boat.  


On top of this we visited loads of picturesque towns and villages including some I’ve already mentioned, but also Morcote. In common they all share lake frontage, beautiful architecture and impressive churches – normally way up on top of a hill.  A stunning part of Europe and we will be back.  

We’re about to leave here and embark on the road trip part 2, going south again.


Road trip part 1

We left southern Spain with the prospect of 11 nights in the van and about 1,000 miles to travel to get to our next stop on the Italian Swiss border. 

Our first stop was in Valencia. Our campsite was near the metro station so we travelled into the city without having to drive the van. We spent a lovely day wandering around the city admiring some excellent modern building at the Cindad De Las Artes Y Ciencias. Five buildings nestled together at the end of a park that wound its way through the city. We also saw some, more expected, old architecture including a lovely cathedral where we climbed the tower for views across the city.   

We then headed to Barcelona. Again the campsite was next to the metro and so off we went. We spent the afternoon at the Olympic stadium and the Olympic sport museum. Barcelona was a huge city. 

We returned the next day and took the hop on and off tourist bus to get around. First stop was the Sagrada Familia. Stunning building, still being built. The inside was so beautiful, with lovely stained glass which was even more beautiful with the sun shining through it. Back on the tourist bus we had stunning views of most of the major buildings and tourist spots. We saw lots of Gaudi buildings.   

We took a quick jaunt to Montserrat on leaving Barcelona which entailed the sort of windy mountain roads that Roger loves! The monastery was on the side of a cliff with views across the valleys. We were there in time for the boys choir to sing in the basilica which was lovely. We then took the funicular up to the top of the mountain from where we walked backed to the monastery. Such a peaceful and inspirational place. Loads of mountain trails to take, so well worth going back to.   

 6th February was Roger’s birthday and also the start of the 6 nations rugby. We’d got ourselves into France so that we’d be able watch it. We pottered in the morning then tried to find a venue to watch the rugby. Eventually we made it to Beziers to an Irish bar where we were able to watch France and England win. Unfortunately by the time the England match had finished we were too late to get into our campsite so wild camped. 

Then began our trip further along the French Riviera, with stops at Montpellier, the Camargue, Etang de Berre, St Tropez – which we’re sure is stunning in the sun, and Cannes. A gorgeous coastline with fantastic beaches and lovely mountains to the north. We then went to Monaco enjoying the beautiful ports, old town and travelling on a local bus around the famous hairpin bend travelled on the Grand Prix. In all of this we didn’t see anyone famous. Maybe early February isn’t peak viewing time for the rich here! 

 All this travelling brought us to Italy for the next part of our adventure.