Mediterranean atmosphere in Switzerland | Deccan Herald
It has a laid back, tropical vibe with palm trees and lake views and 2300 hours of sunshine a year, but I’m in the Switzerland that most people only associate with chalets, mountain pastures and sheep. Lugano, nicknamed the Monte Carlo of Switzerland with its avenues lined with magnolias, palms, trees and lime trees, is the largest city in Switzerland’s southernmost canton of Ticino, on the border with Italy . Milan is only a short train ride away. Italian-speaking Lugano, with a population of 60,000, has more than 71,000 Italians who travel to the city every day to work in its offices and banks, as salaries there are much higher than in Italy.
“We say Ticino is about combining Italian lifestyle and flair with Swiss efficiency and order and getting the best of both worlds,” says our local guide, Patricia Carminati. Trains and buses run with clockwork precision, but the ambiance and cuisine are decidedly Italian with pastas, risottos, polenta on the menu and a tradition of appetizers. We walk through the old town of Lugano with its Lombard-style architecture starting with Via Nassa, one of Lugano’s historic streets, lined with high-end designer boutiques, from jewelry and clothing to watches, under d old arcades. The street is named after the traditional fishing nets called nassa as it was once the place where fishermen would weave them before it was turned into townhouses for the wealthy. Piazza Della Riforma is a popular public square with open-air restaurants, bars and bistros, lined with ornate buildings with wrought-iron balconies, which winds through a network of cobbled lanes. The lake promenade, or lung, lined with lime trees and vendors of roasted chestnuts, leads to the main green lung of the city – the Parco Ciani, with a peach-colored neoclassical villa which is used to host events and weddings, overlooking the lake, created in 1845 by the Ciani brothers of Milan, with centuries-old sycamores, rhododendrons and palm trees. With a Mediterranean vibe, lawns, modern art installations, statues and red benches for lounging, it’s a favorite spot for dog walkers, joggers, strollers and mothers with babies in prams crossing us. Lake Lugano, with glacial origins, surrounded by steep slopes lined with chestnut trees, is 63% in Switzerland and the rest in Italy. It’s at the heart of a lifestyle with fishing boats and yachts cruising the waters and villages with grotto or cellar restaurants lining the shores of the lake. It dates back to when refrigeration wasn’t around, and the warm, mild climate needed a place to dry meat and ripen cheeses as well as age wine.
In Victorian times, part of the lake was called Paradise because it was so picturesque, and today it is the starting point for a boat trip that we take with the shipowner and local entrepreneur Gabriella Rigiani, which gives us breathtaking views of the villages and towns that border the lake. Passing the grand Victorian-era hotels that line Lugano Boulevard, we glide over the waters, passing through small villages and towns. Gandria, with its pastel-coloured stone houses rising steeply from a cliff at the foot of Monte Bre, was once a fishing hamlet, today it is one of the most beautiful villages frequented by tourists . The 2km path from Castagnola to Gandria called the Promenade of the Olives, was created to revive the cultivation of olives in the region and is known for its panoramic views of the countryside. A short train ride from Lugano is Bellinzona, the capital of Ticino located along a strategic mountain pass, which was under the Dukes of Milan, who controlled the movement of goods and people from Italy to Italy. Northern Europe with three fortresses and a garrison. of soldiers and horses — Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro. These high defensive walls, built in medieval times and extended later, were used to stop the expansion of the Swiss Confederates. Today they are inscribed on the UNESCO heritage list as they are examples of unique Alpine military architecture. We stroll through the old town with the tinkling of church bells in the air, passing stately mansions and grand stone-built houses, with our multilingual guide Anna Bezzola, owner of a local travel agency. Ahead of us looms the daunting fortress of Castel Grande which, according to arrowheads found in archaeological digs here and dated, was home to inhabitants from the Neolithic period. “Other towns in Ticino have lakes, we have our forts,” says Anna proudly. “Even today, as locals build houses and dig up the ground if they come across dolmens from antiquity, then it becomes a potential archaeological site. We love being Swiss, but we have fought to keep our language and our Italian heritage,” says Anna. The story echoes through the streets of the old town. Inside a modern sports shop, Anna shows us painted wooden ceilings dating back to the 15th century, with images of animals and other symbolic motifs.In St. Peter’s Square with its outdoor cafes and dovecotes is the imposing Baroque Collegiate Church of St. Peter and Stephen, with frescoes and stuccowork, built by the same architect who worked on the Cathedral of Como My favorite building in the city is the Ca Rossa or the Red House with striking terracotta decorations on its facade, which was a popular style of decoration in Milan in the 19th century. pro Nearby is the bustling Wednesday market with stalls selling fresh produce from the region – from chestnut and lime honey to polenta and local liqueurs, sourdough bread and organic grappa, and blaring to the music of the local musicians with their fiddles and throat singing.
Our final visit to Ticino is the bustling town of Locarno, located on the shores of Lake Maggiore, with parks and gardens in full bloom, with palm and lemon trees. At the edge of the lake is the Parco de la Camilie, with nearly 1,000 different varieties of fragrant camellias. The Locarno Lido with its public swimming pools and outdoor thermal baths is the center of relaxation in summer. The city has one of the largest public squares I have seen – the Piazza Grand with arcades and shuttered buildings. “It’s the meeting place of the city and where markets, concerts, film screenings and festivals are held,” says Anna. Locarno is famous for its international film festival which has been held every year in August for over 70 years.
We relax on the shores of Lake Maggiore, with a walnut ice cream, watching the boats and the swans, and the high mountains of Monte Rosa towering on the other side. Ticino has a knack for slowing you down!