|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|