Palm Trees… and Snow ?!
It was a weeklong adventure with my parents visiting us in Zürich from New York City, and we certainly covered a lot of ground – walking around Zürich and warming our bellies with Swiss fondue and hot chestnuts, experiencing Bern’s crazy confetti-filled Onion Festival even if in the rain and sleet, tasting kugelhopf in the colorful and charming Alsatian town of Colmar (which you’re sure to read about soon on the blog!) and even recreating an authentic Thanksgiving feast here in Switzerland. Having had our fill of wursts, cheese, chocolate, snow, Swiss German and French, we went off on a search for sun, pasta and gelato!
We hopped in the car and headed south from Zürich for “always sunny” Ticino, Switzerland’s Italian region. Looking around at the architecture, the people and how they dress, hearing the sing song melodies of Italian, reading restaurant menus, and even observing people’s driving, you’d have a hard time believing that you weren’t actually in Italy. After two hours in the car, we passed through a 17-mile tunnel and all imagined what would welcome us on the other side… we each had our own visions of blue skies and sun and beautiful Italian people walking around outside with large cones of gelato (despite it being the end of November). What a shock when we emerged from the tunnel?.and found ourselves in the midst of a snow storm!
Seeing palm trees in Switzerland is already quite of a curious thing. Looking up at tall, green palm trees, and then looking down at piles of white snow is yet another. Vegetation that seems better suited to Florida or Brazil made for quite a contrast with the Alps as a background. Our base for a few days of this Italian winter exploring was in Locarno, ironically known to amass the most hours of sunshine of any other Swiss city – or so our guide book told us! It is a beautiful old town full of Italian piazzas and arcades, subtropic gardens and churches, all sitting on Lake Maggiore. The weather didn’t hold us back, and we enjoyed the Italian atmosphere, savored thin crusted pizzas, platters of mixed grilled fish, fresh pasta and big scoops of gelato. In and out of pasticcerias, we even honed our Italian, ordering individual cream pastries and admired the tall panettone in the windows.
Below are two good spots for eating out in Locarno. Next up on the blog: a fabulous find for where to stay in Locarno – which may just be the same place to get the city’s best cappuccino.Cittadella Via Cittadella 18 6600 Locarno Switzerland +41.90.751.58.85 www.cittadella.ch In the heart of the old town, a trattoria downstairs with a large menu of fish dishes, pizzas and pastas. Upstairs is a more formal restaurant specializing in fish.
Cantina Canetti off Piazza Grande 6600 Locarno Switzerland Where the locals go – more the neighborhood bar than a restaurant, they have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Enjoy while snacking on plates of dried meats and bowls of hearty minestrone soup with fresh bread.