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Lake Lugano

Your guide to Lago Di Lugano...

San Mamete - Valsolda, Lombardy

Follow the road that leads melodiously along Lake Lugano's northern shore and before very long you will stumble upon the quaint old village of San Mamete.

lake side villa

Located just a 15 minute drive from Lugano this small village sits elegantly on the lake's side surrounded by dense wooded hills that tumble down to the water. Its location facing south means that for most of the summer - cloud allowing - San Mamete bathes in the Mediterranean-type sunshine that is so typical of this area.

Although the village is only a stone's throw away from Lugano it is located just over the Swiss border and is therefore part of Lombardy region, Italy, whose capital is the fashionable city of Milan one hour to the South.

But despite its close proximity to Lugano city, San Mamete seems a world away from the hustle and bustle of its lakeside neighbour. With just a handful of inhabitants, a village shop and one bar this charming community is the epitome of tranquility. Even the locals, who are now so used to sharing their idyllic hideaway with foreign tourists, add to the charm by welcoming visitors with open arms and a friendly smile.

San Mamete Excursions

San Mamete is a great place for those seeking out a little peace and quiet on their holiday, and because its location on the lake is so central it also makes the ideal base from which to explore the local Ticino and Lombardy area.

lugano ferry boat

San Mamete is also a popular stop for many of the ferry boats that busy themselves on the lake. From the small village jetty you can catch a regular service that makes the 45 minute journey up to the city of Lugano. Although a longer journey than by bus, the extra time spent on the boat is well rewarded as the views along the way are quite spectacular.

Another nice way of reaching Lugano is to travel there via the summit of Monte Bre. There is a funicular railway that takes you to the top from where you can soak up the breathtaking scenery before making a descent on foot into Gandria. From Gandria it is then possible to rejoin the ferry service that will take you the rest of the way into Lugano.

As the Swiss public transport is so nicely integrated it often means that you can buy a ticket covering both the fare for the ferry and the Monte Bre funicular. So if you want to take this scenic route from San Mamete then combined tickets are normally available from the ferry boat information office in Lugano.

If you're feeling adventurous you could hire a mountain bike and cycle one of the two trails that lead down the mountain into Lugano. There is an easy option for beginners which drops down into Bre Village and then winds along the lake shore before arriving in Lugano (approx time 30 mins), or a far more challenging route that passes through thick beech forest before delivering you into the centre of Lugano (approx time 3hrs 30 mins).

Steamer to Porlezza

From San Mamete steamer quay there is a regular ferry service that runs into Porlezza (Italy) - the most easterly town on Lake Lugano. Porlezza (pop - 4500) is a vibrant town located in the province of Como which offers visitors a good variety of restaurants, delicatessens, bakeries and boutiques. Porlezza also has a weekly street market every Saturday, and during the summer months a regular craft and antiques fair makes an appearance as an additional treat.

The town itself is surrounded by truly outstanding scenery which makes the town a perfect destination for trekking, mountain biking and horse riding holidays. And because of its lakeside location, Porlezza is still the place to head for if you like a spot of fishing, sailing or water skiing too.

Lake Como and Bellagio

bellagio lake como

If you wish to explore further afield then lake Como is just a 30 minute drive away from San Mamete. There you can enjoy even more spectacular lake scenery as you soak up the delights of this unspoiled area of Lombardy.

Probably one of Lake Como's most talked about towns is Bellagio, which is believed by many to be the most beautiful town in all of Italy. Perhaps it's the cobbled alleyways, oleander and lime trees, and peaches and cream painted hotels that support this belief. But it certainly does live up to its glowing reputation.

So although San Mamete is only small and tucked away on the North shore of Lake Lugano, it does offer visitors the best of both worlds. On the one hand you have the peace and tranquility that a smaller resort has to offer, and on the other you have a village so conveniently placed that your choice of sightseeing excursions might be somewhat overwhelming.

Traveling to San Mamete

You can reach San Mamete quite easily both from Lugano-Agno and Milan's Malpensa Airports. If arriving at Lugano-Agno you can catch the shuttle bus that takes you into the centre of Lugano. From there you can catch the regular service bus which brings you around the lake to San Mamete

If arriving at Malpensa Airport there are daily shuttles that bring passengers directly into the centre of Lugano, from where you can catch a service bus to San Mamete. The travel time from Malpensa Airport to Lugano is approximately 80 minutes. It is always advisable to make a seat reservation on any transfer shuttle prior to your arrival at Malpensa. This is easy to do and just involves filling in a short form on the shuttle operator's website. The link to the Jet Bus shuttle is below.