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Explore Lucerne: A Fusion of Modernity, Fine Dining, and Ancient Charm

Published: May 17, 2023
The Kapellbrücke, a covered wooden footbridge over the Reuss River in Lucerne, Switzerland, seen with the Wasserturm (Water Tower) at the far end, circa 1965. (Image: Harvey Meston/Archive Photos via Getty Images)

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Nestled in Switzerland, Lucerne — also known as Luzerne in German or Lucerne in French — is a captivating city that seamlessly blends contemporary elements with its rich historical heritage. Many of its architectural marvels date back to the 14th or 15th century, adding a sense of timelessness to the cityscape.

Among these notable structures is the iconic Kapellbrücke, a picturesque chapel bridge constructed in 1333, which serves as a link between the Old Town and the right bank of the Reuss River. Lucerne takes pride in meticulously preserving and restoring these buildings, ensuring that the city’s unique character remains vibrant.

Intricate hand-painted murals seen on the old Lucerne House Wall. (Image: Manos Angelakis/Luxury Web)

Exploring the Aldstadt, or Old Town, is an enchanting experience for visitors. The Old Town captivates with its remarkably preserved medieval architecture, adorned with captivating murals, charming shops, and inviting restaurants. The churches, waterfront promenades, and the backdrop of snow-capped mountains create a truly picturesque ambiance. Every corner turned reveals a new delight, as the labyrinthine streets and alleys never cease to offer breathtaking views of the water, mountains, and captivating ancient paintings adorning the facades of the buildings.

A city filled with ancient charm

During our stay, we had the pleasure of immersing ourselves in the rich history of the Wilden Mann (Wild Man) hotel, which traces its origins back to 1517. The hotel’s roots began as a tavern, and one of the two current dining rooms still bears witness to this legacy, adorned with the coat of arms of prominent city families and guilds.

Throughout the 19th century, the Wilden Mann transformed into a renowned establishment, and today, it comprises seven interconnected buildings that exude charm. Navigating through steps, connecting hallways, and uniquely designed rooms adds to the hotel’s character. The public spaces feature classic furniture and portraits of esteemed figures from the city’s history. Individually decorated rooms and suites boast antique furnishings, warm colors, brocaded fabrics, and stunning views of the rooftops of the old city.

The entrance to the renowned Wilden Mann hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland. (Image: Manos Angelakis/Luxury Web)

Centrally located in close proximity to the renowned wood-covered Kapellbrücke, the Wilden Mann provides easy access to the heart of Lucerne. The hotel is intrinsically tied to the city’s legends, with the bearded giant known as the Wild Man serving as the guardian of Lucerne’s blue and white coat of arms. As you stroll through the city, you’ll encounter numerous murals and sculptures depicting this iconic figure.

The inside of the dining room at the Wilden Mann hotel is equipped with a gorgeous wood finish, authentic European decor, and heart-shaped chairs. (Image: Manos Angelakis/Luxury Web)

Rooted in history

In the 15th to 18th centuries, Lucerne thrived as an affluent city, even minting its own currency. During a private collection visit, we had the opportunity to admire a 5 ducat gold coin from 1695 bearing the depiction of the “Wild Man” and the inscription “MONETA NOVA LVCERNENSIS 1695,” signifying the New Money of Lucerne.

Within the Wilden Mann, the Burgerstube, occupying the former tavern space, entices guests with a delectable menu featuring intriguing dishes and beverages. We indulged in a delightful lunch, savoring the wild garlic cream soup and the Lucerne “Fritschi” pie, a delectable puff pastry filled with locally sourced vegetables, including exquisite mushrooms and a choice of meats.

A prawn pasta dish as served at Da Ernesto restaurant in Lucerne, Switzerland. (Image: Manos Angelakis/Luxury Web)

For breakfast, the first-floor breakfast room presented an American-style spread, featuring an array of breads, pastries, fruit juices, yogurts, cheeses, charcuterie, and various egg preparations, accompanied by sausages, bacon, and exceptional coffee. The breakfast room’s walls, adorned with frescoes inspired by the city’s decorative murals, added a touch of artistic elegance to the dining experience.

Delectable cuisine and drinks

In the evenings, we ventured to a restaurant called Da Ernesto, located across the river from our hotel. This charming eatery specializes in classic Italian cuisine, offering tantalizing antipasti, flavorful carpaccios, and a delightful selection of veal, chicken, fish, seafood, and pasta dishes.

I opted for a plate of tagliatelle with basilico verdure and sautéed baby artichokes — a perfect choice that highlighted the flavors of the dish. Instead of wine or beer, I enjoyed a bottle of cider, which beautifully complemented the olive oil-infused flavors of my meal. Barbara, on the other hand, relished a plate of spaghetti topped with grilled giant prawns in a light cherry tomato sauce.

A scrumptious plate of Tagliatelle pasta as seen at the Da Ernesto restaurant in Lucerne, Switzerland. (Image: Manos Angelakis/Luxury Web)

To conclude our delightful dinner, we savored the Tiramisu della Casa (a classic Italian dessert made with layers of ladyfingers soaked in coffee and liqueur, creamy mascarpone cheese, and dusted with cocoa powder) accompanied by a satisfying espresso. The friendly and attentive staff contributed to the overall positive experience. With its prime location across the river from our hotel and its proximity to many of the city’s must-see attractions, Da Ernesto proved to be an excellent choice for our evening meal.

Lucerne captivated us with its blend of history, natural beauty, and culinary delights. It is a city where the past gracefully intertwines with the present, inviting visitors to explore its charming streets, immerse themselves in its rich heritage, and indulge in its culinary treasures.

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