A tale of cities, food and friendship

One can define a trip as the act of going somewhere and returning. Where as to define an experience as having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participating.


I thought it would be easy to mesh together a story of two cities. Both approximately an hour by train from Milan. Both Italian speaking. Access to the Alps from either city. Well I was wrong. One has a stunning lake as its focal point and houses draped on the side of mountains. Deeply colorful and a traffic-free historic center. The other known for the founder of Fiat, literary cafe’s, chocolate and food. Palaces as center points and way too many museums to mention.

The first outing was Turin Italy. The gorgeous spot in Northern Italy which hosted the Winter Olympics in 2006. The second was Lugano Switzerland. Both cities were new destinations for the three of us.

We arrived in Turin around 10:45 am, stepping outside the sun had already embraced the day. The shadows from the buildings were casting a spell on me. Then I saw the puffy white peaks of the Alps floating into the horizon. There is so much to see in this city. Basilicas, museums, piazzas, and shopping on Via Roma.

We set off walking, and the city announced “authentic” to me not touristy. The streets were unlike each other and similar all at the same time. I caught myself trying to capture the city’s distinctive character in my mind and in my photographs. While Turin may not be Rome it also doesn’t try to be because it doesn’t need to be.

We hadn’t make it very far down the street before being distracted by the retail shops. Shoes, clothes, and bags all beckoning to us with the “Saldi” sign. We couldn’t resist the beautifully decorated windows. We tried on boots and coats. Yes we could have done this in Milan but there was something intriguing about shopping together in a new city.

Black or grey or maybe both?

After leaving the store with packages that we confessed could perhaps slow us down, we headed in the direction of the Duomo. Fresh off our shopping “high” and ready to continue exploring, however, we were sidetracked by our rumbling stomachs.

Meals in Italy are like a celebration. An event where friends and family gather. The young and old. You take your time, linger and nourish your soul. We did exactly that for approximately 2-1/2 hours at Ristorante Solferino located at Piazza Solferino. In-house made pasta an appetizer with truffles and a fantastic bottle of wine. What else is needed? Dessert of course (and seriously a nap but no time for that)!

Pasta with artichokes fresh herbs. Silky delicious and made vegetarian for me.

Historical Turin captured my heart with it’s baroque architecture. I love the arches that adorned the buildings.

Sun filling the sky on a February afternoon
Center Square

Museums are plentiful

We eventually made it to the Duomo and viewed The Shroud of Turin. All too soon it was time to make our way back to the train station. But not without a stop for the traditional aperitivo to stimulate our appetite for dinner. This Northern Italian tradition should be enjoyed daily, or at least every day you are in Italy.

Drinks and salty snacks equals fun food

Next up Lugano Switzerland

As our train pulled out of Milan we looked forward to our second getaway. The southern Swiss Italian speaking region of Lugano.

Beautiful scenery awaits you

After exiting the train we opted to walk down the curved steps that lead us steadily into Old Town. There is a funicular that will provide a ride however I recommend walking. Without a map we just walked and eventually ended up at Piazza della Riforma. A popular spot to sit and watch the world go by.

As the sun shone down on us we sipped Prosecco! We were in an Italian state of mind. (in switzerland)!

Food Markets

Games being played along the lakeside.

We strolled along The Promenade which is peaceful and stunning. The lake is the focal point of this city that mixes the Italian influences of the easy going way of life with Swiss beauty.

Once again lunch was a main focus for us. We were drawn back to the restaurant Gabbani which we first noticed upon our arrival into Lugano. The cuisine – Mediterranean inspired. Pasta fresh and delicate with a hint of lime zest. It melted in my mouth. Wine crisp and delicious.

Walking along the lake

After lunch a much needed walk was in order. We continued down the promenade. The clear lake was enticing as the fog cleared and the sun was shimmering over the water.

Birds in-flight

Rainbows, beautiful days and friends

“A good friend listens to your adventures a great friend takes them with you”

Thank you K for your unruffled translating and always choosing the perfect bottle of wine. Thank you L for your visual perception of these two extraordinary cities.

One might question why we would travel to a destination for a day trip when you can’t possibly see all there is to see in a day. I ask why wouldn’t you. Tempt yourself in a good way. Go without a rigid plan. Embrace the events of the day. We shopped more than we had intended. We lunched for hours. We only saw a few sights. What we did do – we fortified our friendships. Shopped like locals and filled our bellies with bowls of pasta. Discovered two cities that we would all love to visit again

Cheers Tamara!

One thought on “A tale of cities, food and friendship

  1. Tamara. I love reading about your travels. The pictures are awesome and I feel like I have been there. You should write a book. Love Mom


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