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Monday, September 2, 2013

Impressions of Switzerland, Part 3: Ticino

It is the time of véraison in the Ticino, the southern canton of Switzerland, when the wine grapes are ripening and changing color from green to blue and purple. Lots of small and large vineyards line the valleys and hug the hills. In the smaller ones, vintners are still working the vines by hand. In the larger ones the topping (trimming off the excessive foliage) is done with machines. The goal is to give the grapes as much sun and air and strength so they can ripen to perfection.


These vines will be ready in a few years

 
In warmer climates, the grapes are grown lower on the vines so that they are somewhat protected from too much sun and don't dry out. In colder climates, however, they are grown away from the ground to shield them from the frost rising from the ground up.
 
Beside grapes, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables grown here and sold at the traditional outdoor markets. Here is one in Bellinzona, the capital of the canton Ticino. It is not only a place to buy produce and other groceries but a gathering point for the locals and tourists alike, where they meet for a chat, a cup of espresso, a glass of wine, or, perhaps a grappa.

And here is my niece Eveline, who became the source of the character Lena in my Family Portrait series. She grows and cultivates roses and is a permanent feature at these outdoor markets. Not an easy life and much of her income depends on the weather gods. But she loves her work and let me tell you, these roses are the most beautiful I have ever seen. And their scent is incredible!
 
 
 
My friends and I took a lot of walks, since the weather was gorgeous and the temperature just right and we needed to walk off the calories from the delicious food! Here are some scenes from along the river Ticino.
 

 
 
On one of our outings, we drove to Olivone in the Blenio Valley and walked along the beginning of the Sentiero Lucomagno, the path that leads to the Lucomagno Pass or Lukmanierpass (in German). Olivone is a beautiful village, which I used in my novel as the hometown of Andreas (Love of a Stonemason). These photos show Olivone and the surrounding landscape.
 
Monte Sosto, a mountain which also plays a role in Love of a Stonemason

 
 

 
And, as usual, a good meal is the perfect way to end a walk.
 

Osso buco (veal shank) with mashed potatoes and veggies--my favorite
Another outing took us to the border between the canton Graubünden in the German part and the canton Ticino. Roveredo and its surroundings bring back fond memories of my visits to my sister and brother-in-law in Castaneda in the Calanca Valley. Both of them passed on but the memories remain.
 


 
My friends love nothing better than driving over a mountain pass and there are many around this area, aside from Saint Gotthard. Here we are at the top of San Bernardino at 2066 m (6778 ft.). It's quite cool up here. Of course, that's not us on the bikes. We "old fogies" came by car.
 

Another clear but cold mountain lake


These kind of Zen-inspired sculptures seem to be the trend everywhere
 
I hope you're enjoying my journey through Switzerland. See you next time.


13 comments:

  1. Lovely blog, Christa! I so enjoyed the photos. Thank you for sharing your adventures. :)

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  2. Thank you. I enjoy these posts from Switzerland. They are a happy education. Lindsay

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  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Susie. I want to do something like this next time I drive up Hwy One and take pictures of the spectacular California coast!

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  4. Another good one! I also would love to do that trip up Hwy One. It is definitely on my bucket list. I would have a total field day taking pictures in Switzerland!

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    1. Dorothy, taking pictures would be the perfect reason for you to visit Europe again. And yes, after all my traveling, Hwy One is still one of my favorite spots in the world!

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  5. As I write from the island in Washington, I hear what sounds like a fog horn...or is that you practicing on your alporn?? Blow it, girlfriend! I can hear it way over here!!! Zowie!

    I thought today's blog was very telling. First you start off talking about vintners and their grape growing habits for wine. Uh huh... Get those grapes harvested, stomped and fermented NOW. Right, Christa?? Shocking! Have you NO self control?

    CHEERS!!!

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    1. Well, Monster A Go-Go, I'm in the process of educating myself on winemaking for my current novel-in-progress, so I have it visit many vineyards and taste many kinds of wine as part of my research. Sounds reasonable doesn't it? No?

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    2. I guess researching wine...ahem, "making" and the various tastes of wines is more glamorous to do there than on the streets of Santa Monica Blvd sipping from a bottle wrapped in a paper bag. That way you don't have to share with any of the street people (Of course, you only socialize and hobnob with the elite crème de la crème of the street people, not just ANY common homeless bag person or wino!). How brilliant of you--but who knew Swiss land made Thunderbird or Gallo wines?

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  6. Another beautiful tale of your stay in Switzerland and once again I'm jealous, but very happy your enjoying your time there. It's really fun to live it vicariously through you!
    Diane

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    1. Thanks, Diane, perhaps one day we'll be here together!
      Christa

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