Come with me on a train ride through the longest railway tunnel in the world and end up in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. This is how easy you can move around here and find yourself not only surrounded by another language, but also by a different cultural atmosphere.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel is quite a thing here in Switzerland, and maybe in the world. It was opened in 2016 and took almost 17 years to be built. It surely is a masterpiece of engineering. The tunnel is 57km long, starts in Erstfeld and ends in Bodio, and leads right through the Swiss Alps – a challenging barrier between the North and the South of Europe when it comes to mobility. As a passenger the only thing you realize is the dark view when you look out the window. Going at around 200km/h you will see the sun and the typical palm trees of the Ticino after a 20-minute ride. For those of you who would love to learn more about this spectacular tunnel, I recommend watching the 8-minute long documentary by the Swiss Radio and Television.
Ticino makes you indulge in the beautiful language, the warmth, the socially-minded culture, and the way they celebrate and cherish food.Autumn is the time of chestnuts in Ticino, for many mountainsides are covered in chestnut forests. Now the fruits are ready.
Many different things are produced with what was once Ticino’s staple food such as flour, spread, purée, flakes, confect, tagliatelle, beer. I love them most when they are roasted, we call them “Heissi Marroni” in Swiss German ;-), and as a dish named “Vermicelle”. For this we use sweetened chestnut purée and form vermicelli (as they name says) out of it, add whipped cream and meringues. To spoil yourself completely you can also add vanilla ice, it then becomes a “Coupe Nesselrode”. Definitely a sweet soul food when the days are getting shorter and the nights longer.
The houses and villages are something you will surely also fall in love with.
And the views, be it relaxing in a garden or hiking high above the valley, are just spectacular.
Being surrounded by mountains and alps means that animals like sheep, goats, and cows are brought onto these higher levels during summer to feed on the grass and herbage there saving the one in the valley for winter. The herders live on the alps with the animals for the time being. In autumn, though, they are all gone again and what is left are the mountain huts typically made of stone in Ticino and a pure silence.
When hiking, your eye might catch one or the other natural beauty. You find a variety of mushrooms now, including this poisonous fly agaric (Fliegenpilz in German), a colourful undergrowth, and chirring grasshoppers. This one is a female, in case you are interested. I can tell that from her long ovipositor, which she uses to lay eggs.
Ticino is called our sunny living room as the sun shines more often here and the climate feels to be warmer. Wrapping this post up with some sun rays over the mountains and the sky colours after her setting seems therefore appropriate.
What about you, have you ever or just lately been to Ticino? And what is your preferred dish with chestnuts, if you get them where you live?