Tag Archives: Switzerland

Acquacalda, Switzerland, 2-Day Hike to the Mountain Hotel

On our way to the west mountains surrounding Olivone, (one of the smaller towns in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland), my dad and I trudged up through the hills close to the place my mum dropped us off.

Karte Gemeinde Olivone

Karte Gemeinde Olivone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since tackling the whole 15km way to Acquacalda would be very tiring, my mum offered to drive us to a village which was ideally scattered on the side of a mountain surrounding Olivone.

The hills we walked up through reminded me strongly of the cosy Hobbit holes dug in the side of a grassy green hill. As we finally emerged from the hillside of the small village, we were, or I was, not pleased to see a winding path leading steeply up through dense woods.

Bildschirmfoto 2015-08-15 um 16.40.24                  Bildschirmfoto 2015-08-15 um 16.42.14

Although the ascent was tiring, we made it and made ourselves comfortable in the mini restaurant of the next village named .

I drank a quick bottle of Rivella (a very famous Swiss beverage) and went off again, the map indicating that there were some steep paths ahead. The worst was not over yet.

Bildschirmfoto 2015-08-15 um 16.52.11

When we finally emerged from the woods surrounding Acquacalda, we were both sweating, our clothes sticky and wet. The last slope up the hill of the Mountain Hotel was tiring and the first thing we did was to sit by a nearby stream and ate lunch.

The hotel rooms were surprisingly cosy and well furnished as we went to sleep, our bellies full with homemade pasta.

The next day was less tiring and we made a short ascent up a small mountain, the remaining hike being just a flat landscape with a steep descent at the end. However, it wasn’t the steepness that irritated me that much. It was the flies… Only in the fields, I could already count nineteen hitch-hiking flies clinging onto our T-shirts…

Bildschirmfoto 2015-08-15 um 17.05.41

The last route down was also tiring because it was riddled with serpentine bends, making your feet numb and sore. We eventually arrived in Olivone before lunch and surprised everyone by turning up so early.

 by Francesco Limacher

Advertisements

Hiking in Ticino (Southern Switzerland)

Map of Ticino districts.

Map of Ticino districts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The southernmost canton of Switzerland is Ticino. It has 8 districts and borders the Canton of Uri (to the north), Valais (to the west), Graubünden (to the northeast) and Italy’s regions of Piedmont and Lombardy to the south (and it has a small Italian exclave, Campione d’Italia).

In Ticino, named after the Ticino river, which flows through it from the Nufenen Pass to Lago Maggiore. Italian is the official language (like in southern sections of Graubünden).

Tisino is split geographically in two parts by the Monte Ceneri pass. The Sopraceneri – in the north – is formed by two major Swiss valleys around Lago aggiore: Valle del Ticino and Valle Maggia. The region around the Lago di Lugano is the southern part, also called Sottoceneri.

Its nickname “Sonnenstube der Schweizcomes from the 2,300 sunshine hours the canton receives every year, compared to 1,700 for Zurich. But Ticino is also “prone to fierce storms and has the highest level of lightning discharge in the whole of Europe”.

If you are interested in hiking in Ticino, Ti-Sentieri is a very good site to plan your journey.

Bildschirmfoto 2015-08-11 um 19.16.51

You can choose to start by one of the valleys, choose an intinerary and check the huts (capanne). On the site Capanneti.ch you can have a look at the different huts available.

Bildschirmfoto 2015-08-11 um 19.36.55

Make sure that before your first hike you gather all the information you need, by visiting Ticino-Sentieri , where you can find emergency numbers, the kind of roadsigns you’ll find on your path (segnaletica), the rules of conduct (regole comportamentali), and what to do before you start your hike.

Bildschirmfoto 2015-08-11 um 19.36.23

Our multicultural Christmas

Every country, every culture has it’s own ways to celebrate traditional festivities. Some families who live abroad adopt some of the local traditions and adapt them with those they know from their own childhood or from the other places they’ve lived.

Multicultural families need to agree not only on which festivities they want to celebrate but also on how to celebrate them. It’s a decision that involves extended family and friends too. This time of the year many internationally living families are getting inreasingly worried because they know that this topic will cause  friction with their loved ones.

I’ve experienced many changes in the way we celebrate Christmas in my family. My parents tried to maintain the German traditions while we were living in Italy. We had a Christmas wreath and an Adventskalender where we would open a “little door” every morning, starting from December 1rst until Christmas Eve, the 24th December, finding either little chocolates or some nice pictures (that would be illuminated when hold against a window or put in front of a candle or lamp), with the same effect of lighted windows you can find in Switzerland and Germany where houses are sometimes decorated like Advent calendars:

40px|border|Flag Deutsch: Adventszeit in Luzer...

Over the years we adopted more and more elements of the Italian way of celebrating Christmas: panettone and torrone became as standard as Lebkuchen and Weihnachtsplätzchen and we would also prefer having fish instead of meat for Christmas dinner. We would have a presepe set up in our living room, but also an Adventskranz (Christmas wreath). – In the last 20 years our family traditions became more and more multicultural, mixing mainly Italian, German and Swiss and, for my family here in the Netherlands, also Dutch habits. These don’t only imply food and decorations, but also celebrations throughout this Christmas season.

A month full of celebrations…

In many European countries Christmas is not the only festivity this time of the year. On December the 5th or 6th we celebrate Sankt Nikolaus in Germany, Switzerland etc., and on January the 6th we celebrate la Befana in Italy and Dreikönige in Switzerland, Germany, France etc. On the 6th December children receive tangerines, nuts and small presents for Sankt Nikolaus and usually a little Sankt Nikolaus Lebkuchen (gingerbread) in Germany and Switzerland, whereas in the Netherlands this is the most importan celebration (see below). On the 6th January kids get candy if they were “good”, and “coal” if they were “bad”.

My husband grew up in Switzerland, and he recalls that Christmas season started (more or less) when they had a Grittibänz at Saint Martin (November 11th). Then Saint Nicholas followed, Christmas cookies were baked and the first Christmas Markets were set up.

Deutsch: Hefeteigmann (Grittibänz), ungebacken...

Bildschirmfoto 2012-12-18 um 20.16.10

Weihnachtsmarkt(1)

What to eat at Christmas…

Christmas is a time to celebrate thankfulness and togetherness and traditionally this is made by sharing meals. In Italy, Christmas is the most important celebration. Families would have a festive dinner on the vigilia di Natale (also called cenone di Natale) on Christmas Eve, December the 24th, where traditionally fish is served (after antipasti and primi). The birth of Jesus is celebrated on the 25th December by cooking festive meals that are followed by panettone (wich is similar to the German Weihnachtsstollen!), pandoro and torrone.

Bildschirmfoto 2012-12-18 um 20.16.10

In Germany, the traditional Christmas meal in my extended family was the Weihnachtsgans (goose; some prefer duck). My grandma served it with red cabbage and potatoe dumplings (find more recipes – in German! – here) after a soup, and Christmas cookies and Christstollen afterwards. – In our family in Italy, we used to have trout for lunch (after antipasti and primi) on the 25th, and some panettone, pandoro, torrone, Weihnachstplätzchen and Lebkuchen… Not all together, of course, but nicely devided over the Christmas holidays… Our Swiss family likes to celebrate with a raclette made with cheese, but meat is also a great alternative and this is very similar to the Dutch gourmetten.

When to open the presents…

In Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany, the presents are handed out on Christmas eve (24th December). The family gathers around or in front of the Christmas tree and sing songs. Children play the piano, the flute or other instruments, and only after having sung Christmas carols all together, everyone opens their presents. – In Italy, like in the US, it is custom to receive the presents on the 25th. – In many multicultural families it is very difficult to agree on the way to celebrate Christmas, on how and when to hand presents. Is Father Christmas bringing the presents or are they offered by family members? My husband and I agreed that as long as our children believe in Father Christmas (Weihnachtsmann), he would be the one bringing the presents – like Sinterklaas a few weeks earlier. In order to have a smooth transition to the “reality” and less magical Christmas, once they’ll know the truth about Father Christmas, we let extended family offer personal presents, so that our children can thank them for their gifts. This combination of traditions is an important aspect of these celebrations which really needs to be agreed with the whole extended family in order to avoid misunderstandings and frictions.

What we celebrate now

Since we live in the Netherlands, our festive time of the year starts when Sinterklaas arrives to the Netherlands in his stoomboot end of November, and ends the 6th of January with the Heilige Dreikönige and the Befana. – Our children follow the whole story about Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten and zetten de schoenen almost every evening. When Sinterklaas returns to Spain on the 6th December, we start decorating our home for Christmas with symbols.

It is common practice to celebrate the Advent (from Lat. adventus “coming”) by lighting one candle every Sunday before Christmas, to symbolize the time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ.

The readings for the first Sunday in Advent relate to the old testament patriarchs who were Christ’s ancestors, so some call the first advent candle that of hope. The readings for the second Sunday concern Christ’s birth in a manger and other prophecies, so the candle may be called of Bethlehem, the way or of the prophets. The third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday after the first word of the introit (Philippians 4:4), is celebrated with rose-colored vestments similar to Laetare Sunday at the middle point of Lent. The readings relate to St. John the Baptist, and the rose candle may be called of joy or of the shepherds.(…) The readings for the fourth Sunday relate to the annunciation of Christ’s birth, so the candle may be known as the Angel’s candle. (cfr. Wikipedia)

 Advent(1)

Once the advent wreath is in its place, we slowly add a few decorations like candles, the winter scenery our children decided to set up some years ago (and we add some details every year) and a presepe.

NLChristmas Presepe

How we are going to celebrate Christmas this year

This year we’ll celebrate Christmas in the Netherlands. The past we’ve mainly been travelling during this time and this year I really wanted to stay put.

This year, my parents will come to visit and we’re all very excited to have them! We have made plans about what we want to do  with them. Christmas, for me, means to spend time together, to focus on one another and enjoy the festive atmosphere. I like the smell of Christmas: the mix of cinnamon, candles, hot chocolate, sometimes Glühwein, Lebkuchen, roasted almonds and marroni. We’ll have a cenone di Natale with antipasti and fish, and on the 25th we’ll do like the locals and opt for gourmetten: similar to the Swiss raclette, fish, meat and vegetables are cooked on small stoves directly at the table and everyone can serve himself. Or we’ll make a fondue… Our children will open their presents on Christmas Eve and we’ll enjoy the erste Weihnachtsfeiertag by having a great festive lunch and going for a long walk maybe at the beach.

©expatsinebirth2014

©expatsinebirth2014

This year my children will get to decorate the Christmas tree with their grandpa. We’re all not getting any younger and I want this Christmas to be a time to build memories. Christmas is the time of the year where we not only are aware of the beginning of an era – a new year! – but also of the ending of one… For me Christmas is a mix of feelings: some sadness about the year that passed, friends who left, but also the excitement about the new. In German there is a nice word for it: Besinnlichkeit. In some countries people have just celebrated Thanksgiving and this spirit of being grateful and thankful for me is the spirit of Christmas that I want my children to associate with this time of the year. I think this is the heritage I want them to have. No matter how and where they’ll celebrate their future Christmases: I would love them to focus on this Christmas feeling.

Candle and decoration on a German Christmas tree

Candle and decoration on a German Christmas tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know it’s still a few more days until Christmas, but I’d like to wish you all a besinnliche Weihnachtszeit (“reflective Holiday Season”), un buon Natale, un joyeux Noël, en gueti Wienachtsziit, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Boas Festas and een vrolijk Kerstfeest!

This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs ‘Christmas In Different Lands’ series. Each day of December up until the 25th a different blogger around the world shares a part of their family Christmas.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-12-14 um 11.26.16

Festival del Film Locarno

English: Piazza Grande Italiano: Piazza Grande...

English: Piazza Grande Italiano: Piazza Grande durante il Festival del film Locarno Français : Piazza Grande pendant le Festival del film Locarno Deutsch: Piazza Grande (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are in the southern part of Switzerland at the beginning of August and you like cinema, especially auteur cinema, you don’t want to miss the “Festival del Film Locarno“. Yesterday, Wednesday the 6th 2014, was the kickoff of the 67th edition of the Festival, also known as “Pardo”. This film festival occupies a “unique position in the landscape of the major film festivals” and every August, for eleven days, Locarno becomes “the world capital of auteur cinema”.

Thousands of film fans and industry professionals meet here every summer to share their thirst for new discoveries and a passion for cinema in all its diversity.

The exceptional audience is the soul of the Festival whose major attraction are the famous evenings on the Piazza Grande where films are viewed on a 26 x 14 m (364 m 2 ) screen, the biggest open air screen in Europe.

The setting on the Piazza Grande with more than 8,000 filmgoers every night is magical and the multicultural audience is a perfect launch platform for new films from all over the world. Many gems from a challenging selection are shown in world premières and you can literally feel the pulse of new tendencies. Like every other Film festival, you can spend whole days viewing films in many venues in Locarno (Auditorium Fevi, La Sala, L’altra Sala, Ex *Rex, Teatro Kursaal, Rialto, PalaVideo). To recharge batteries between the screenings, you have a great selection of premises.

The program of this years festival comprises a rich menu of world, international or Swiss premieres (on the Piazza Grande), fiction and documentary features, devoted to first and second features (fiction and documentaries), two short films competitions (Concorso internazionale and Concorso nazionale) and special programs. There is also a selection of works exploring new narrative forms and innovative film language. Under “Fuori Concorso” you can find screenings of shorts and feature films by well-established filmmakers that have a non-standard format. The “Film speciali” are dedicated to the personalities awarded at the Festival and “Histoire(s) du cinéma” are tributes, documentaries about cinema, screenings of restored prints and Cinema svizzero riscoperto (rediscovered Swiss cinema). “Film delle giurie” are films featuring or made by members of the main juries, “Restrospettiva Titanus” are retrospectives dedicated to the Italian production studio Titanus and the “Open Doors” is a program of films from Sub-Saharan Africa selected by the Festival’s coproduction lab. The “Semaine de la critique” comprises an independent section of documentaries and the “Panorama Suisse” an independent section dedicated to Swiss films. – You can find the whole program here.

I can’t attend the whole Festival this year, but really enjoyed the opening ceremony yesterday with Luc Besson, Melany Griffith and Jean-Pierre Léaud (who received the Pardo alla Carriera) and the Première of “Lucy” by Luc Besson.

©expatsincebirth, Luc Besson, Festival del Film Locarno 2014

©expatsincebirth, Luc Besson, Festival del Film Locarno 2014

 

©expatsincebirth

©expatsincebirth

 

On Pardo-Live you can follow the event day by day.

 

Cfr. Media coverage lives up the promise of the event. The Festival is closely chronicled by media from all over the world –including Le Monde, Libération, La Repubblica, Die Welt, El Pais, The Guardian, The Independent, all the specialist press –including Screen International, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Le Film français, Les Cahiers du cinéma, Sight and Sound, not to mention the whole of the Swiss press.