From Lake Como, especially the area close to Menaggio, it is but a short drive to Lugano in Switzerland. Lugano with its beautiful lake, parks and upmarket shopping is a stunning place to visit, whether for a day trip or a longer stay. The region of Switzerland known as the Canton of Ticino is Italian-speaking and the food is a tempting mixture of traditional Swiss, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, often influenced by the seasons and the proximity of fresh ingredients.
Apart from the spectacular scenery, shopping and food, there is an exceptional recreational area in Lugano – Monte Bré. You reach it via the Funicolare Monte Bré which opened in 1908. The station is just beside the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola, a few minutes from the centre of Lugano. After a journey of just a few minutes you will find yourself in the magnificent, unspoiled, natural environment of the summit of Monte Bré. The breathtaking scenery at the top is a joy to behold, and this is just the starting point.
There are pathways and signposts to help you decide which way to go once at the summit. For an artist, perhaps locating the perfect spot to do some sketching or painting is your desire. Wilhelm Schmid, an exponent of the German New Objectivity movement in the 1920s, has a museum on Monte Bré dedicated to him for those interested in Art and the painter’s fascinating artistic development, characterised by simplified shapes, flattened colours and strong light accents.
Those wishing to go mountain biking can choose from two treks, and if you don’t have your own bike with you, it is possible to hire one for the day (or half day) at a reasonable price. On foot, Monte Bré provides an excellent starting point to set off on the magnificent hiking routes through the heart of nature with pathways of various degrees of difficulty and length to suit most levels of fitness and taste.
However, I have to admit that I made a beeline for the café and enjoyed the shade, fresh air and panoramic views while treating myself to some refreshments. To be fair, just walking the paths at the summit of Monte Bré can prove to be quite demanding on a hot Summers’ afternoon. If you happen to arrive at the funicolare station earlier in the day, consider buying a roundtrip ticket which includes lunch at the Osteria Funicolare or the Ristorante Vetta for CHF35 for adults and CHF29 for those aged 6-16. They have a daily lunch menu which looked most appetizing. And let’s face it, all that fresh air and exercise is bound to give you an appetite.
Whether you are planning to go for a nice walk, hike, bike, sketch or paint at the summit of Monte Bré, may I humbly suggest that you wear comfortable clothing and the appropriate footwear. Sunscreen is also a consideration, especially at that altitude (933 metres above sea level). In my view, Monte Bré is certainly worth a visit, it is a lovely place to take children and there is something for all the family. Enjoy!