19 June 2011

LIFE: Back to Lugano, One More Time

 Dinner on the terrace of Villa Sassa
SARONNO, Italy –  In a few more weeks my friends in Lugano are going to be heading home back to Pittsburgh, so  I decided to visit them one more time before they leave. I was hoping we would go back to restaurant I wrote about last month, http://thisitalianlife.blogspot.com/2011/05/life-lovely-lugano.html, but unfortunately when I got to Lugano I found that  the weather was just about as bad there as it was in Saronno, rain, rain and more rain. It was obvious that another meal at the Antico Ristorante del Porto was not in my future. 

In between storms we managed to walk into the center of town and do some shopping. I was happy to find a linen blouse and a couple of pairs of slacks. Out timing was fairly good, except for Thursday when it decided to pour just as we decided to head home.

 19th Century Villa Sassa
That night I was all for ordering in a pizza and staying in their cozy apartment, but I was overruled. “Come on,” they said, “we’re going to the Villa Sassa, it’s just up the hill.”
The city of Lugano is built like a Roman coliseum: the lake is the arena and the seats, or in this case the streets which surround the lake, fan upward like a massive bowl. Except for the city center, which is flat, you are always  going up or down a hill. 

I was expecting the Villa Sassa to be a neighborhood restaurant, a trattoria or pizzaria, instead it turned out to be a massive complex set on 16,000 square meters of land overlooking the town of Lugano and the lake. The property is anchored by a restored ninetieth century villa, the original Villa Sassa, plus an elegant four star hotel, a residence with 70 apartments, a spa and a wellness center and two restaurants - a bar restaurant and a more formal restaurant. 
 The grounds of the Villa Sassa
It was raining when we got there, but it was a warm evening and we decided to eat out on the terrace of the bar restaurant anyway and enjoy the misty views of the mountains and the lake.  

The bar restaurant is informal and perfect for when you are not in the mood for a full three course meal. Since we were not particularly hungry, we decided to just have a first course and we all wanted pasta. Mr. T and I opted for lasagna, while Mrs. T ordered spaghetti Bolognese. 

The lasagna noodles were perfectly cooked and the light béchamel sauce had just the right hint of  nutmeg. Since moving to Italy I find I prefer béchamel sauce in lasagna, because it is smoother and more delicate than ricotta cheese. As Mrs. T was making ummmy sounds as she ate her spaghetti, I have to believe hers was very good as well.
The crooked streets of old Lugano

I’m going to miss them when they leave. It's a pity they are not going to be around this summer as they are going to miss the all the classical and jazz concerts in the piazza. But I know they’ll be back in a few months. Mr. T has a business in Lugano and wild horses can’t keep him away too long.

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