Italian Flavor in Switzerland

There’s nothing better than family, especially Swiss-Italian family that cooks homemade meals when you visit! For the second half of our Swiss trip, Markie, mom, and I headed to Lugano, Switzerland which is on the border of Italy. This area of Switzerland has a very Italian feel to it – architecture and language wise (they speak Italian here) – which we were fortunate to experience.

We traveled to Lugano to visit my mom’s cousin and her family. They define what I imagine Italian hospitality to be – we had home cooked dinners each night with delicious Italian red wine and prosecco flowing. The first night was homemade pizza, the second spaghetti, and the third was risotto followed by homemade tiramisu. That accompanied by hours of conversation, oftentimes about our family history, was really an enjoyable experience.

In our four days in Lugano, I fell in love with the scenery. Lugano is a city that has a beautiful lake and is surrounded by mountains with quaint villages.

After spending a few days in Lugano, we headed about an hour south to Milan, Italy. I was really excited to visit Italy for the first time, although our time there was a brief twenty four hours. Milan was a bit mediocre for me as its more of an industrial city (I think Rome or Florence have more charm), but we did do a bit of sightseeing. We went to the Piazza del Duomo which is home to the Duomo di Milan, an impressive cathedral that dates back to the late 14th century. We wanted to climb to the top which is supposed to have an impressive view of the city, but unfortunately by the time we got there in the evening it was closed. Instead, we headed to the Rinascente rooftop cafe to get drinks and enjoy a great view of the city. We also did a bit of window shopping in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and enjoyed people watching as we ate dinner there as well. Sunday, before our flight back to London, Markie and I walked to the Brera Design District which is a nice area with an open air fashion market (I had to pull myself away from a Prada purse!), restaurants, and cafes.

Overall, our trip was really great. Switzerland is a beautiful (albeit expensive!) country with friendly people and so much to see. It was also wonderful to see so much of my family, and I really cherished the time we had with them and how hospitable they were.

 

Advertisements

Switzerland, the Beautiful

As I write this, I am currently in Biel, Switzerland, my mom’s hometown. My mom, Markie, and I are four days into our trip to Switzerland – staying in the cities of Biel and Lugano – with a brief 24 hours in Milan at the tail end. We are mostly visiting family on this trip, although we have done some exploring of our own in the downtime.

IMG_4220
View of Biel from the balcony of our AirBnB

On Saturday, we arrived in my mom’s hometown of Biel. After a brief walk around the La Vieille Ville, the old town area of Biel that dates back to the medieval ages, we headed to my mom’s cousins house for a family BBQ. The last time I was in Switzerland was ten years ago, so it had been quite some time since I had seen my family here. They were so welcoming though and we had several hours of great conversation. I am SO proud to say that my French comprehension is actually quite good with the Swiss accent; I was able to understand a good portion of what was said and my mom translated the rest.

IMG_4227
La Vieille Ville (Old Town) of Biel

My mom’s hometown is on Lake Biel, so on Sunday we went for a lakeside BBQ with my mom’s best friends from childhood, and Markie was able to swim in the lake. Her friends were so kind and gave Markie a Swiss hat and t-shirt as a present.

FullSizeRender (1)
Markie’s Swiss shirt and hat

Monday we took a day trip to visit my mom’s cousin and his family in the town of Thun, about an a hour from Biel. Thun is an absolutely beautiful town with a really nice historic old town and a lake. We walked around the town and lake a bit before heading to my mom’s cousins house for lunch and a relaxing afternoon. On the way back to Biel in the evening we also stopped in the capital of Switzerland, Bern, for a quick walk around.

This morning we met up again with some of our family for a mid-morning cafe visit – I love how strong coffee is here! We also went to visit a winery in a town called Twann this afternoon. Twann is a really pretty town with historic Swiss houses by the lake. At the winery, I was able to sample five different Swiss wines and bought a few bottles to take home. Switzerland actually produces a fair share of wine, but 98% of the wine produced here is consumed within the country, so it’s quite hard to buy except for in Switzerland.

What’s next on this trip?

Tomorrow morning we are heading to Lugano, a touristic city on a lake that is near the Swiss-Italian border. We have more family there that we will be visiting until Saturday, at which point we will head to Milan for a day of exploration before heading back to London on Sunday.

What is interesting about Lugano is that while the vast majority of Switzerland either speaks German or French, Lugano is in a canton (like a state) called Ticino, where the main language is Italian (due to it’s proximity to Italy). My great-grandparents and great-great grandparents were all born in the Lugano area, and this is my first time visiting, so I’m looking forward to seeing an area that is such an important part of my family history.

Till next time all!