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WEEKENDER TICINO Swiss charm meets la dolce vita in Ticino, Switzerland’s southernmost, sole Italian-speaking canton. Words: Sarah Gilbert


H


ome to historic lakeside cities and a strong tradition of farming and gastronomy, Ticino’s cultural sights,


scope for outdoor pursuits and culinary gems are an open secret in Switzerland — and yet its name is unfamiliar to many Europeans. Ticino’s regional cuisine is shaped, in part,


by its high-altitude tea plantations, rice fields and vineyards — the most famous of which are those around Mendrisiotto in the south, which produces white Merlot. Come in May, when the Open Wine Cellars days offer the chance to be bussed between vineyards for tastings and musical events. The canton’s castle- rich capital, Bellinzona, has an unmissable morning market on Saturdays.


38 nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel


Further afield, in the historic lakeside cities of Lugano, Locarno and Ascona, restaurants range from Michelin-starred wonders to simple taverns. There are lots of ways to burn off Ticino’s gastronomic treats, however, from hiking, biking and kayaking to climbing and canyoning. For the brave, the area is also home to one of the world’s highest bungee jumps — a 721ſt leap off the Verzasca Dam. Ticino has a busy calendar of events,


too, including international film festivals; harvest celebrations dedicated to grapes, strawberries and chestnuts; and the Holy Week processions in Mendrisio, which hold UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status.


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