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Luigi Cecconi

Once the playground of the glamorous and wealthy during the Belle Époque era, Porza was first mentioned around the 1297-99 mark. Sitting in the district of Lugano where the north of Italy borders with Switzerland, it is the perfect place to base yourself to explore the area. It is home to the Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana (University of Italian Switzerland). Historically a farming community, it is now predominantly a residential enclave overflowing with locals that have come from abroad. It is a mix of Swiss-Mediterranean cultures reflected in both its cuisine and its architecture.

In the town itself there is the Church of SS Bernardino e Martino dating back to the 16th Century, but not much else to keep you there, apart from a skating rink if you want to wet your rear end from falling over.

But, the surrounding area is amazing to explore for its beauty and for the glacial Lake Lugano, where you will find the Italian city of Lugano surrounded by mountains. The lake is a playground for the locals and tourists alike as you can rent sail boats, tour on white steamers or simply sit on the banks and let your eyes feast on the vista. You can traipse up to the summit of Monte San Salvatore and gaze at the Alps or the red rooftops of Lugano at its feet. If you don't feel like the climb, then there is a funicular to jump on. The northern end of Lugano is cloaked in spacious lush parks and flower gardens where you can find historical houses and art collections to meander around.

You can explore many of the quaint small villages around the area or visit the Bellinzona Castles; a UNESCO World Heritage Site to grasp what medieval defensive architecture in the Alps was all about. It is worth taking the time to dawdle around the winding streets of the Old Town of Lugano to see the beautiful frescoes on the buildings, the array of fountains and to stop off for an espresso whilst you people watch.

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