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Swiss Quality, Italian Lifestyle

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Enjoy La Dolce Vita in Ticino, where you’ll find the perfect mix of Italian elegance and enthusiasm, combined with Swiss efficiency and quality, ensuring the perfect holiday…

Description: Description: La Dolce Vita in Ticino

La Dolce Vita in Ticino

Approximately the same size as Dorset, the diminutive canton of Ticino is, nonetheless, packed with an unparalleled combination of high-Alpine mountains, glacial lakes, lush subtropical gardens, chestnut forests and sun-drenched valley lakes fringed with palm trees. Its location deep in southern Switzerland, where it’s almost entirely surrounded by Italy, explains Ticino’s distinctly Mediterranean climate and lifestyle.

The exuberance of the Italian-speaking locals, with their inherent love of fashion and design, topped with a dollop of Swiss quality and efficiency, lends Ticino its unique flair. The Ticinese are accustomed to living “la dolce vita”. In the summer they can hike or cycle in the mountains in the morning, swim in the enchanting Lago Maggiore in the afternoon, enjoy a glass of award-winning local merlot come sundown, and dine in world-class restaurants in cosmopolitan cities or rustic villages when hunger pangs strike.

Description: Description: the enchanting Lago Maggiore

the enchanting Lago Maggiore

However, as the prolific local architect Mario Botta demonstrates with his unflagging energy, the Ticinese continually strive to innovate, creating ground-breaking new hotels, restaurants, spas, events and leisure facilities. This year alone saw the launch of several new properties, including the boutique hotel Giardino Lago, a contemporary yet achingly romantic property on the shores of Lago, a contemporary yet achingly romantic property on the shores of Lago Maggiore; the Resort Collina d’Oro, which incorporates a hotel residences and extensive spa and “ Well-aging” area above Lago Lugano; and the renovated Kurhaus Cademario Hotel & Spa (opening in winter 2012/13), discreetly tucked away in the Malcantone woods, near Lugano.

Description: Description: Monte San Giorgio is a mountain at Lake Lugano known for its marine fossils from the Mid Triassic Period.

Monte San Giorgio is a mountain at Lake Lugano known for its marine fossils from the Mid Triassic Period.

Just as the Ticinese have cherry-picked the best of Switzerland and Italy, they have become skilled at blending old and new to create fresh experiences. For example, the area around Mount San Giorgio boasts such a wealth of 230 million year-old fossils, in addition to spectacular pyramid-shaped mountains and turquoise lakes, that it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, “starchitect” Mario Botta has injected a dose of trademark modernism with a new visitor centre, in which thousands of ancient fossils are displayed, alongside an interactive exhibition. Similarly, Botta restyled the old winemaking plant of the “Fattoria Moncucchetto” (Moncucchetto wine factory) to create a strikingly modern home for the producers of Switzerland’s best merlot and the vineyard’s equally impressive new restaurant.

Good cuisine is essential to the Ticinese and, although its roots lie in Alpine culture and traditions, Ticino’s Mediterranean climate and regional produce imbue its cuisine with Italian warmth and colour. Whether you tuck into traditional polenta and wild boar ragout in a “grotti” (old inns which originated as cellars excavated from the rock), grab a coffee and freshly=baked amaretti in Locarno-Muralto’s suave new Al Porto Café, or savour the brilliance of two Michelin-starred chef Rolf Fliegauf at his glass-roofed ECCO restaurant in Ascona, you will discover unusual tastes and combinations in extraordinary locations.

If these dishes inspire you to head for the kitchen, join celebrity chef Meret Bissegger in her home, Casa Merogusto in Malvaglia, for one of her cooking classes. Not only will you gain an insight into the secrets of Ticinese cuisine and produce, and Bissegger’s distinctively spicy, aromatic specialities, you’ll also have the opportunity to feast on her food with a traditional “Tavolate” – a generous, informal meal served around a large table with fellow guests.

Music is another integral part of life in Ticino, as reflected in its vibrant live music scene and string of internationally-attended are respected events, notably the annual summer jazz and Moon & Stars festivals. The former, Estival Jazz, was founded in 1979 and sees a small but select number of celebrated artists (previous performers include Miles Davis, Ray Charles and Van Morrison) perform at free, open-air concerts in Mendrisio and Lugano. The ten-day “Moon and Stars” festival, meanwhile, gathers thousands of fans to Locarno’s Piazza Grande for nightly concerts in July, and features international stars including Status Quo, Lenny Kravitz, Elton John, Ligabue, Gotthard and Laura Pausini (moonandstars.ch)

Description: Description: Ticino for the music, the food and wine

Ticino for the music, the food and wine

Whether you venture to Ticino for the music, the food and wine, the famous lakes and mountains, or chic cities, you’ll discover that it has more to offer than you could have hoped. Just make sure you make time to relax and soak up the unique dolce vita of this quintessentially Italian slice of Switzerland.

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