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by Edward Kiersh
Villa Castagnola Italy – The adventure begins by first snaking past long-abandoned border outposts, into and out of Switzerland and Italy every few miles. Houses and small hillside farms also seem to be forsaken, and that’s understandable. The one lane roads here, twisting and turning, are mean and harrowing, edging precariously close to cliffs dropping off into oblivion.
It wasn’t easy leaving the comfortable confines of the five-star, Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola, an 1880-built getaway once home to a noble Russian family that sits wondrously right on Lake Lugano. Instead of braving “mad” Italian drivers hurtling through hairpin turns, it would have been far less blood-curdling to sit at one of the Villa’s bars smoking a Cuban cigar, dining in the Michelin-starred Gallery Arté al Lago restaurant, or simply watching the world go by in the Castagnola’s sculpture garden.
By Jane Finn
Despite the fact that I studied art history and Dave architecture at university, after Rome and Florence, we were on historical and cultural ‘overload’. We knew that like fine wine and great food, we needed a break to experience the ‘dolce vita’ and not rush our Venice experience. Firmly believing that the charm of the Veneto community extended well beyond the lagoon, we grabbed a rental car at the Maestro station and headed for the countryside and a couple of rounds of golf before venturing off to Venezia, reportedly the most visited city in the world.