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Lucerne: German-influenced, Swiss town lures tourists with its unique landmarks

The famous covered, wooden bridge – Kapellbrücke – stretches across the Reuss River in Lucerne, Switzerland. The bridge was constructed in the 1300s to connect the two sides of the town and protect against enemy attacks. It is the oldest truss bridge in the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann/Released)

The famous covered, wooden bridge – Kapellbrücke – stretches across the Reuss River in Lucerne, Switzerland. The bridge was constructed in the 1300s to connect the two sides of the town and protect against enemy attacks. It is the oldest truss bridge in the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann/Released)

St. Leodegar Church in Lucerne, Switzerland, attracts tourists from around the globe with its high, vaulted ceilings, marble-stone walls, detailed paintings and gold-covered shrines. The church was built in the 1600s during the Thirty Years War. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann/Released)

St. Leodegar Church in Lucerne, Switzerland, attracts tourists from around the globe with its high, vaulted ceilings, marble-stone walls, detailed paintings and gold-covered shrines. The church was built in the 1600s during the Thirty Years War. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann/Released)

The historic Lion Monument, or Löwendenkmal, in Lucerne, Switzerland, was constructed in the early 1800s as a memorial for the Swiss soldiers who died when revolutionaries stormed King Louis XVI’s palace. Nearly 800 soldiers were killed during the attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann/Released)

The historic Lion Monument, or Löwendenkmal, in Lucerne, Switzerland, was constructed in the early 1800s as a memorial for the Swiss soldiers who died when revolutionaries stormed King Louis XVI’s palace. Nearly 800 soldiers were killed during the attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann/Released)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- The majority of the towns I visit and enjoy are those located next to water. Ljubljana, Slovenia; Lugano, Switzerland; and Cinque Terre, Italy, are all on the top of my "Must-return-to" list. On a recent trip to Lucerne, Switzerland, I added another city to the list.

Situated on Lake Lucerne, this popular tourist destination hosts a handful of free, popular and historic stops. Side note: Free is the key in Lucerne, considering it is an extremely expensive city to shop and dine in.

If you're spending the night, many hotels are within walking distance of everything you'll want to see during your stay. Most parking garages cost 12 to 15 Euro a day and have security cameras installed and attendants who work around the clock.

Our first stop was the famous covered, wooden bridge - Kapellbrücke - that stretches across the Reuss River. The bridge was constructed in the 1300s to connect the two sides of the town and protect against enemy attacks. It is the oldest truss bridge in the world. Just off the side of the bridge stands a water tower that was built several years before the bridge.

Within view from the Kapellbrücke, is the smaller Spreuerbrücke, which also stretches across the Reuss and was constructed in the 1300s. While walking across either bridge, you can gaze up at the trusses to see several paintings that outline various events from Catholic church history.

About a mile from the bridges, tourists can find St. Leodegar Church. The Catholic church was built in the 1600s during the Thirty Years War. Like many churches in Europe, St. Leodegar's intricate, architectural interior is simply beautiful. With its high, vaulted ceilings, marble-stone walls, detailed paintings and gold-covered shrines; you certainly aren't wasting your time by visiting.

Just a few blocks from the church is the historic Löwendenkmal or Lion Monument. The sculpture is a beautiful lion slumped over on a shield. It's obvious the lion has been mortally wounded by the spear thrust through its side. The face of the lion is one of severe pain and anguish. It's as if the lion has just died when you see it.

The monument was constructed in the early 1800s as a memorial for the Swiss soldiers who died when revolutionaries stormed King Louis XVI's palace. Nearly 800 soldiers were killed during the attack. 

One of the last stops to consider is the Pilatus railway. This rack railway is the steepest one of its kind in the world. The railway runs from Lake Lucerne to Mount Pilatus and travelling on it is quite expensive. Visit the Pilatus railway website for ticket prices, contact information, operating hours and more.

If you're looking for a travel destination just a few hours' drive from Aviano, consider Lucerne. Even on a rainy day, the sights you'll encounter will be well worth it.