Fact. Gnocchi wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about Swiss food.
Also fact. Ticino wouldn’t usually be the first place you’d think of when planning your holiday to Switzerland.
And now, as we’ve discovered, we’ve been missing out. Frequented by celebrities and high-flying socialites, the Canton of Ticino in the southeast part of Switzerland is a gem of a destination where the charms of Italy meet Swiss efficiency and cleanliness. Are you falling in love with this place yet?
Let’s take a closer look at the canton’s largest city, Lugano. First, there’s the glistening glacial lake. Then in the backdrop, the majestic snow-capped Alps. And then … palm trees and a Mediterranean climate! It’s quite an extraordinary setting to say the least!
One of the best ways to enjoy this part of the world is by bicycle. There are many routes to choose from, but if you only have a day, then we suggest cycling from Tesserete to the Capanna Monte bar, where a very special hut experience await.
Compared to the traditional and rustic mountain huts, the Capanna Monte bar stands out architecturally. Boasting a contemporary design and set in the lush surrounds overlooking the panorama of Lake Lugano, it’s a stop you’d want to make.
Owners and climbing buddies Alessandro Müller and Jvan Cattaneo are professional chefs. Having worked in 5* hotels in St Moritz, the Caribbean and Dubai, they brought an international flare to their Ticino hut offering, all the while staying true to their Swiss Italian locale.
Opened all year round, this cliff-top hut offers comfortable rooms that sleep two, four and six people; a bike room, a repair workshop, battery charging stations, hot showers and washing facilities. A well-equipped bike hotel, no doubt.
And that’s not all. The aromas from the hut’s kitchen are almost spellbinding, luring noses and winning the hearts and stomachs of anyone who steps through its doors. While the kitchen offers a range of Ticino specialities including pizzoccheri, polenta with Alpine cheese and brasato, it is their home-made gnocchi that is particularly popular. So when you visit, be sure to “gnochh” yourself out – on the food and the views!
Getting back to cycling… if you have a few days to spare, then consider the Val Colla route, a four-day signposted Lugano bike tour that is highly popular among mountain bikers. Starting high in the mountains in Lugano, the route meanders its way around the Val Colla, over the impressive Monte Tamaro and through the hilly forests of Malcantone to Ponte Tresa. Highlights along the route include Monte Brè, Monte Bar and Monte Tamaro, where you’ll enjoy some fantastic viewpoints. Pro-tip – save yourself from some uphill pedalling by taking the funicular up Monte Brè (Ruvigliana-Monte Brè) and the cable car up Monte Tamaro (Rivera-Alpe Foppa).