Our pastel-colored hostel was surrounded by palm trees and bathed in sunlight. After unpacking here and then gathering dinner (French bread, chicken, and blue cheese) at a nearby grocery shop, Kendall and I, and our friends, Rory and Fernanda, hiked up to a charming, pink and orange castle. We picnicked on this hillside overlooking stunning Lake Lugano. Later in the evening, we discovered a little gelato shop that, unbeknown to us at the time, we would all dream about their ice cream for many years to come. Flavors such a Rosemary and Orange, and Dulce de Leche would linger on our taste buds long after the cones were consumed.
As the sun rose the following morning, we hiked Monte San Salvatore. The trail was thinly carved in the mountainside and often guided us alongside gardens and farms. The glorious views made us feel as if we were birds in flight, ascending the heights so swiftly, we were eye-to-eye with the neighboring mountains. At the summit, a 360-degree panorama of the overflowing cliffs and lakes beamed into our line of sight.
We wandered through town, along the shore of Lake Lugano, and into the strong sun in a park. Here, Fernanda and I lounged, admired the swans, and talked about the importance of preserving the childlike attitude of the world, seeing it as your oyster to covet. As the sun transitioned from invigorating to draining, Kendall and Rory appeared with gelato - a serendipitous and sweet reunion.
The sun set as the boys climbed around stone walls and empty buildings, and Fernanda and I wandered amongst the cherry blossoms and discussed our favorite books. We ventured to a new part of the town to meet an old friend of mine, Julia, who was enrolled in the local university. We happily caught up over freshly-made sandwiches, and, without a clue or care for the time, wandered back down the road. We parted ways with Julia and, on the route back to our hostel, discovered a secluded path. This led us to a high-ceilinged tunnel which revealed a small park. We teetertottered, swang, and laughed until the chill of the night hurried us home.
Valle Verzasca was our next captivating destination. On the way there, we explored a bordering city, Lucarno. We savored bites of Tarimisu and gelato, and fed the ducks on Lake Maggiore. The river in Valle Verzasca had many massive, alluring slabs of rock and, right in the middle of these mountains, we snacked on bread, cheese, and grapes, and reveled in the refreshingly cold, crystal water. Along the rocks, we walked until we came to a roaring waterfall. Everything about this countryside was pure magic, and happy tears come to my eyes remembering such bliss.