Luzern. Lucerne. Lucerna. Lozärn.
It has many spellings, depending on what part of Switzerland you're in (there are four official languages here), but Luzern truly is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever visited. I may be biased, but the hoards of tourists we get every year seem to agree. It's the perfect combination of historic charm, majestic mountains, sparkling lake and moderate weather. On a sunny Summer's day, it really can feel like paradise. (On a foggy, cold day, it feels like any other dreary city!)
Having grown up in an area with many lakes (at least two dozen lakes span Waukesha county), where everyone either lived on a lake or knew someone that did, I love water. And I find I'm much happier living somewhere where either a lake or river is within walking distance. Luzern has both a river and a lake and both are beautiful and always buzzing with activity.
The wonderful thing about Luzern (and most of Europe) is that everything is walkable (plus there is great public transportation). So a car is completely unnecessary. As such, everything is much more social; you see people walking around town constantly and you're very likely to run into someone you know. In warm weather, everyone congregates by the water. Since the majority of residents live in apartments, the lakefront becomes everyone's shared "back yard". On a sunny Sunday you'll see everyone - from teenagers, to young families to elderly - out for a stroll along the lakefront or sitting at one of the many outdoor cafes along the river. Really, I've never seen so many old people out and about as I do in Switzerland! There's also a farmer's market by the river every Tuesday and Saturday - all year round. I love it.
I also LOVE having visitors and giving tours of my new home town. Here's a virtual tour of my favorite sights - of course, even more impressive in person. Come visit!