Regional Adventures: Ticino, Switzerland
The next place I will take you to is lovely Ticino, Switzerland where I currently live part of the year. Ticino is the southernmost canton of Switzerland and it is the only canton of Switzerland where Italian is the sole official language. Ticino also surrounds the small Italian enclave of Campione d’Italia and is almost entirely surrounded itself by Italy.
Here in this part of Switzerland you’ll find the efficiency of the Swiss blending very well with the passion of Italians. The weather here is much more mild than the rest of Switzerland and you’ll find palm trees and sunshine as well as great views of the Alps and beautiful lakes.
Just to give you an idea of how much more mild the weather is here I found this little statistic to share with you. The people of Ticino enjoyed 2338.6 hours of sunshine in the year 2009 which is 184 hours above the Swiss average!
I found this great description from http://www.Switzerland.isyours.com and I couldn’t have said it better myself…so I won’t. Here it is:
“The glamour of their canton, and its stunning natural beauty – lushly wooded hills rising from azure water, date palms swaying against deep blue skies, red roofs framed by purple bougainvillea – often seem to blind outsiders with romance. And the German-speaking Swiss in particular fall head over heels for the Latin paradise on their doorstep. It takes just three hours from the grey streets of suburban Zürich to reach the fragrant subtropical gardens of Lugano, and from March till November German Swiss come in their thousands to sit beneath vine-shaded outdoor terraces of simple grotti or osterie (rustic local taverns) and choose polenta, risotto or herb-scented salads from bilingual Italian-German menus, sample a carafe of one of the dozens of varieties of Ticinese merlot, and still pay with francs at the end.”
In Ticino we have world class Merlot here and the local wine store has over 150 local Merlots on it’s shelves, most of them never make their way up north so it’s definitely worthy to try all you can while you’re here!
Here’s a bit of wine history for you too:
Because of new grapes diseases (e.g. phylloxera), the canton government decided to give a new direction to the wine industry: they instituted the cattedra itinerante (moving chair) to teach modern viticulture and winemaking methods, and to substitute new high-value grapes for the local grapes. After a few years of studies and selections, in 1906 the canton decided to seed and recommended Merlot as the main variety of grapes for the canton.
Another change was the operation of the railway of Gotthardbahn, which increased the commerce between Italy and the Swiss-German (and also German) market. This commerce has created new wineries, which mainly started with bottling of Italian wines, but then switched the focus to production of local wines.
To go with your glass of Merlot have some prosciutto, salametti, cheese, olives, crostini with tomatoes and artisan bread to make it a world class experience!
Here’s a great little commercial for Ticino that captures the flavor nicely:
Now when you ask ‘What’s there to do in Ticino?’ the answer is A LOT! Due to the beauty and the mild climate there are lots of things to do outside such as hiking, biking, sunbathing, as well as skiing in the Alps if you feel like it. Ticino is also known for it’s wellness spas so you should definitely get yourself to one of those as well as its Mediterranean cuisine and great wine so you definitely won’t go hungry here.
One of the great sites that is recommended to see here is the Santuario della Madonna del Sasso. This sanctuary overlooks the town and was built after the Virgin Mary supposedly appeared in a vision to a monk, Bartolomeo d’Ivrea, in 1480.
Or you could do what we like to do and have a nice bar-b-que and enjoy the outdoors and a glass of wine!