Music in the Mountains: Secret Switzerland

Music sets the tone from the start. In Luzern there’s a visit to Richard Wagner’s home, Tribschen, across the lake. You attend a concert at the Luzern Music Festival. It’s at their fabulous KKL Concert Hall which hovers over the lake, designed by Jean Nouvel and the highly touted acoustical engineer, by the way, was an American.

In Luzern one must have a walking tour to learn the history of the world’s saddest sculpture (Mark Twain’s words), their Lion Monument and to find out how it was possible their historic covered bridge on the lake was ever allowed, in the ‘90s, to burn down. Also go to the Stanserhorn. Their open cable car gives you a panoramic view of the whole region. One day is off to St. Gallen to their gothic cathedral and library, both UNESCO World Heritage sites. Luzern accommodations are at the Waldstätterhof right across from the rail station and concert hall.

musicmountainlake The William Tell, not the overture, but the ship takes you south to Ticino, Switzerland’s Italian corner. In Lugano you stay at the boutique hotel, Gabbani, where upon entering, one is surrounded by their gourmet food market and restaurant. Part of a day is at Bellinzona visiting the three restored medieval fortresses, also UNESCO World Heritage sites, which have guarded a trade route north for centuries. At Pollegio, see Swiss engineering at its best at the newly opened 35-mile St. Gotthard Tunnel and its museum built with chunks of granite from the drilling. One day it’s up the remote Verzasca Valley giving you an idea of how the Swiss lived 100 years ago.

Leave Lugano on the Centovalli train, through another window into the remoteness of Swiss life, zip over to the Simplon Pass and down to Vevey on Lake Geneva. This wine-growing Lavaux region, a third UNESCO World Heritage site, was selected for its spectacular natural beauty. A second concert is at Stravinsky Hall in nearby Montreux. One day you must visit the brand new Charlie Chaplin Museum. The two nights are at Vevey’s Grand Hotel du Lac.

musicmountainsnightEn route to Basel, where three countries meet on the mighty Rhine, you’ll visit some Roman mosaics. Yes, the Romans were all over Switzerland. Basel is a multi-cultural city with history, Erasmus, beauty, more than 35 museums, and Tiguely that famous whimsical Swiss sculptor. His work is around many corners, also in his namesake museum. From your window at the Trois Rois the lapping Rhine may lull you to sleep.

The Switzerland circle stops for a night at picturesque Ittingen. Never heard of it? Not many have. It’s a medieval monastery restored to what it may have been with a small hotel, a baroque church and chapel, art galleries, farm animals, a vineyard, lovely gardens, and monks’ quarters to show us how they lived way back when.

Then back to Luzern’s Waldstatterhof for a dinner at a Michelin restaurant and a final festival concert. Before getting to Zürich Airport, one last stop is at the tiny village of Regensberg. It’s totally unspoiled, medieval, walled, and the people who live there take care for their almost unknown, very secret and precious jewel –

PRACTICAL TRIP INFO

  • Length: 13 days best between mid-August to mid-September for attending the Luzern Festival
  • Included transportation: Private transfers, boat & trains
  • Hotels: Three-star superior to five-star superior plus a farm cum monastery
  • Also Includes: Daily breakfast, 3 lunches, 2 wine tastings, & 6 dinners; 4 guided tours; 3 concerts; & visiting 3 of Switzerland’s 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • Estimated land package price based on double occupancy & at $0.95/CHF: $5,300.00/person based on 8 travelers