La Dolce Vita


In Canton Ticino we like to take life easy. In a land so often bathed in sunshine, we take each day as it comes, enjoying to the full the beauty of nature around us. That’s the secret of the good life here: learning to appreciate the little things, to savor every moment without being overwhelmed by daily routine, between a film and another. 

Rule number 1: you only really start the day after your second coffee

The coffee culture

Just like in nearby Italy, the “black gold” is a big tradition in Canton Ticino. For breakfast we like a big cup, usually with milk, but after meals there’s nothing like a good espresso – called caffè liscio in Switzerland if you drink it black, caffè macchiato if you ask for it topped with hot milk.

Rule number 2: get plenty of sun

The first rays of the sun

Once the weather starts getting hot, Lake Maggiore is just the right place to be in the sun. There are so many perfect spots for enjoying the sunshine: relaxing on the bright red benches along the Lakeside, strolling along the river in light summer clothing, or even stretched out for a nap on the lawn outside a grotto restaurant.

Rule number 3: Sunday = lunch at a grotto

Local grotto restaurants

The grotti are historic structures built around rock-hewn cellars once used to preserve food. Which is why they are usually found on shady hillside slopes, where temperatures are cooler even during the summer months. Over the years many grotti have been turned into restaurants with leafy terraces, where traditional Ticino food and wine are served on stone slab tables.

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Rule number 4: passionate glances can improve your life mood

Flirtation is part of la dolce vita

There’s nothing like a bit of romance to brighten your mood. After all, the first thing you need to bring a smile to someone else’s lips is to feel at ease with yourself. And that’s something which comes naturally under the palm trees of the Canton Ticino, with a wellness weekend for two in Ascona-Locarno, or a candlelit dinner looking out over the lake.

Rule number 5: one ice cream is never enough

Flavors that have to be tried

There’s no resisting a visit to an ice cream parlor to try out new flavors. Alongside the classics – vanilla, chocolate, strawberry – many gelaterie offer novelty flavors and house specialties you might well never find outside Canton Ticino: craft-made gelati with farina bòna (toasted corn flour), local merlot wine, concord grapes, figs and persimmons.

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Rule number 6: sport for the sedentary

The game is the thing

The most popular sport in Canton Ticino? Playing cards! The game of Scopa takes plenty of skill but is a fine recipe for conviviality. It’s played by friends, often at a grotto with a jug of white merlot wine and a plate of local salami to hand. The winner is whoever is first to reach 11 or 21 points – depending on how long you want the game to last.

Rule number 7: there’s always time for an aperitivo

The aperitivo tradition

Once an aperitivo was just a drink taken before meals to sharpen the appetite. Artists and intellectuals liked to meet and discuss the latest news and ideas over a drink before dinner. Today the aperitivo has become a regular social habit – the classic way to meet up and unwind in the evening, after a hard day’s work.

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