Ticino looks, feels and sounds like a little pocket of Italy in southern Switzerland. Italian is spoken here, and the pace of life is slower than in the German and French-speaking parts of the country.

The architecture is also decidedly Mediterrenean-looking.

And make no mistake about it. Although the inhabitants of this southern canton are proudly Swiss, the Italian spirit of la dolce vita informs most aspects of life in Ticino, creating an irresistible combination of Swiss and Italian influences.

Here are five reasons why you should take a trip down to Ticino when you’re visiting Switzerland.


1. The food


The Mediterranean diet of fish, olive oil, vegetables and wine lives on here, and many an hour can be lavishly whiled away at one of the canton’s hundreds of grottos – traditional al fresco restaurants with a focus on fresh ingredients and simple dishes.

As with most other Mediterranean cultures, food is taken very seriously here, and don’t be surprised if you put on a few extra kilos!


2. The nature


It’s in Ticino that the European and African continental plates meet, creating the Alps as we know them. From the magical vistas that sprawl out over the Centovalli (Hundred Valleys) or the placid lakes in the region that provide a cooling relief when the mercury reaches for the high 20s and 30s, Ticino is green, wet and a landscape photographer’s dream!

It’s also a hiker’s paradise, which is perfect as you’ll definitely need to work off those excess calories…


3. The culture


Venture far enough south from Zurich to Switzerland’s southern most canton of Ticino, and you’ll gradually witness the shifting of priorities, away from almost militant efficiency and punctuality of Swiss Germans to a more fluid concept of time and a greater focus on enjoying the good life.

The culture here has more in common with Italy than with the rest of the country, but thankfully a commitment to exceptional customer service and reliability remains. We can thank the Swiss Germans for that!


4. The people


Spend even just five minutes in Ticino, and you won’t be able to tell who holds a Swiss or Italian passport. People that live in Ticino look Italian, and the reverse is true too: Italians look like the Ticinese (those that hail from Ticino).

And as with the Italians across the border, the Ticinese are a proud, warm and open people, which means that making friends with locals is probably going to be much easier here than in Zurich.


5. The history


Ticino has strong links to its Roman past, when many communities here developed from lonely settlements to major trading towns. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the region was controlled by successive ruling powers, such as the Ostrogoths, the Lombards and the Franks.

Legacies of these empires remain today in the preservation of ancient buildings, monasteries and mountain passes that snake through the mountainous region. You’ll feel like you’ve travelled back to the Middle Ages here!

Have you been to Ticino in Switzerland?