Carona, not corona for the win was first published on My Swiss Story on July 5, 2021.
My mom instilled in me a number of memorable things, but one I am most thankful for is the love of travel. When I was younger, she took off on “girls trips”. I didn’t know it then, but those trips renewed her spirit and made her happy and healthier upon returning.
I get it now.
It is no surprise that you can usually find me planning or dreaming about my next girls getaway. I am usually the first one to say “Yes!” even before my friends finish their sentence which usually starts “Hey do you want to go to ….” I honestly don’t care where we go, I just love exploring new places and not having to cook or clean for a few days. Luckily Switzerland has a lot to offer this gal full of wanderlust.
So after 18 months without any girlfriend getaways, the first one was finally planned for early May. The irony of our first post Corona getaway was that it was to Carona. Carona, Switzerland that is.
Carona, not Corona, is located in the Italian part of Switzerland, minutes from Lugano in Canton Ticino.
I’ve always enjoyed visiting the Italian part of Switzerland. It honestly has the best of everything:
Crystal Blue Lakes
Warmer and sunnier climate
Cleanliness and Timeliness of the Swiss
Delicious food of Italy (Gelato, Cappuccinos, Pizza, Pasta, Seafood)
Friendliness of the Italian people.
We ventured down to Carona on a Monday morning via train. A 3 hour train ride from Zurich HB via Lugano. If a 3 hour train ride seems crazy, trust me, it goes fast when you are gaping out the window at all the sheer beauty whizzing past you. Add to that the fact that there were no kids asking me where their homework was or interrupting me for the umpteenth time … It was heaven.
We arrived in Carona via the post bus through a small stone archway that honestly I didn’t think the bus could even fit through. But obviously, the driver had done this before.
Our first stop was dropping off our bags at the Hotel Villa Carona, and grabbing a cappuccino in the adjacent restaurant. There is something about a cappuccino in the early afternoon, sans kids, in the Italian part of Switzerland that just feels decadent.
After our caffeine fix, we decided to hike down to the lake. It was super picturesque going down, but super steep coming back up. After that short but strenuous hike, we took full advantage of the hotel amenities.
Hotel Villa Carona is one of the Swiss Historic Hotels and it was just lovely. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a sucker for a European breakfast buffet, and the hotel Carona did not disappoint.
Delicious gourmet breakfast…. outdoors!!! Lovely relaxing garden, swimming pool, wooden barrel sauna, gourmet restaurant and easy access to tons of hiking trails.
After that steep hike up, we rewarded ourselves with a quick dip in the cool pool. Well, I should clarify, my brave friend took a quick dip while I soaked up the last of the sun and waited patiently for my turn in the wood barrel sauna.
Since we took advantage of the two-night gourmet package, we had a fabulous “vier gang” four-course dinner at the adjacent restaurant. Followed by a stroll through the picturesque town at night.
Carona is in an idyllic village, located 602m above sea level, between Monte San Salvatore and Monte Arbostora hight above Lake Lugano. The village is lovely to just walk around with pretty pastel color buildings and walkable trails.
The next day after a two cappuccino breakfast, we hiked to Parco San Grato, a gorgeous 200,000 m2 botanical park a short walk from the hotel. The park hosts the largest and most varied collection of azaleas, rhododendrons and conifers in the region. Which lucky for us happened to be blooming in early May. Within the park, there are several different “themed paths” to explore – relaxing (short hike for families with playground), sensory path, artistic path, botanical path and panoramic path. We could have spent all day exploring all that this park had to offer. But we still had a few kilometers of hiking to get in.
From San Parco we headed south toward Morcote and enjoyed a gorgeous forested hike with to die for views of the Lake and adjacent mountains. We then hiked along the lake to Santo Maria del Sasso Church and then on to Parco Sherrer, another smaller and more eclectic collection of statues and flora. After a lovely gelato break, we took the ferry back to Lugano and bussed it back to our hotel room in Carono.
All in all, it was a lovely experience. One I can highly recommend for a quick getaway. We were blessed with gorgeous weather and a delicious goodbye lunch at this outdoor restaurant with blooming wisteria. Getaways are essential for our physical and mental health.
We also discovered on our last day that the Hotel has a separate retreat space for larger group events. Which really got my wheels turning – woman’s retreat – hiking, stargazing and relaxing. Who’s in? I think I will take my mom here next time she visits.