We left Milan at lunch time on Thursday in the pouring rain, headed for Lugano, a 90 minute bus journey away. Unfortunately, with the exception of Friday, the weather remained rather wet and cold for the whole of our visit.
We were to stay with our friends Marco and Soraia, who we last saw in Brasil in 2016. They met us at the bus stop to drive us to their apartment and then, despite the rain which persisted all evening, we took a stroll around Luguano town centre. It has evolved over the years into an expensive shopping venue at the expense of its previous, more traditional appearance, but even in the evening rain it was pleasant to wander around.
Lugano originated as a market town some time before the 10th century and was a part of Milanese Lombardy, until coming under French control in 1500.
It was a Swiss domain between 1513 to 1798 when Napoleon arrived and created the Helvetic Republic which replaced the Swiss Confederation. The city burst onto the international stage in 1956 when Lugano hosted the first Eurovision Song Contest!
In the following decades Lugano became a banking centre, based on Italian cash; this in turn attracted people with money to spend. However, with the relaxing of Swiss banking secrecy the banking economy has reduced and a recent decision to ban wearing burkas has pursaded a significant number of visitors to shop else where.
In the rain it is difficult to wax lyrical about Lugano but as I said it is a pleasant lakeside city. As it transpired we spent little time here as, happily, Marco and Soraia had plans to show us a lot more of Ticino outside Lugano itself.