Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Autumn Holidays

The photos on this blog are scanned photos as at this time the digital camera was not yet invented. That is why the quality is not so good.

Tessin[1]Many years ago (around 1985 to be more exact) we regularly went for a week's holiday somewhere in Switzerland in Autumn. We lived in the town and wanted to get away from things a bit. It is quite a custom to go to the Italian part of Switzerland in Autumn. The weather is mild, lots of sun, and they have a few lakes. The dark blue bit is the kanton of Tessin, the Italian part of Switzerland. We travelled from Solothurn with the car and even the journey was a small adventure. We packed the two boys in the car, then being about 8 years and 13 and made our way. The trouble with Switzerland is when you drive anywhere there are mountains in between. Either you drive over them or through them. Going to the Tessin we had to get through the Gotthard range of mountains, quite high and wide. In 1984 the road tunnel did not yet exist but the train tunnel and that was the one we mainly chose. We drove onto the train on special platforms and then we had a twenty minute train ride through the Gotthard tunnel. It was also a rest for Mr. Swiss as the complete journey was about three hours on the road. It was also possible to drive over the Gotthard. Here is a photo of the original road known as the Tremolo. It is no longer in use as in the meanwhile a motorway has been built. I went over it once when I was a teenager in a coach. It was quite an experience.

Tremelo road Tessin

There are quite a few hairpin bends there. Anyhow after the journey we arrived at our lodgings. Mostly we rented an appartment in a place called Brissago which was about a ten minute drive from the Italian border and situated overlooking the Lake of Locarno. In the Tessin there are quite a lot of Lakes, but the main ones are the Lake of Locarno and the Lake of Lugano. The Lugano side is also very nice, but Lugano is more the business center and shopping centre. Locarno is more beautiful scenery and old buildings.

Lake of Locarno towards Brissago

This is a view taken over the Lake from our appartment in Brissago. We mainly went walking in the area. Along the top of the mountains at the side of the lake you had a wonderful view and there was a sort of scenic path. We usually walked from the village of Brissago, through Ronco and arrived at Ascona, which is one of the bigger tourist towns on the Lake.

Lake of Locarno

The vegetation in the area is also completely different to the rest of Switzerland. Palm trees grow wild and the gardens are full of flowers that you usually have to cultivate in a garden. The Tessiner people even say the palm trees can be a bother as they grow wild in the gardens and even get in the way. Here is me in on one of the paths along the banks of the lake.

Tessin Lake of Locarno

The food in this part of Switzerland is naturally Italian style and excellent. As we were always there in Autumn it was the so-called hunting season and the menus at the restaurants were mainly game from the area. One of our favourite excursions was to the Borromean islands to be found in the Italian part of the Lake of Locarno. There are two islands in the middle of the lake. There is a small village on the island and a wonderful palace which I think was built by the family Borromeo, a rich family in the middle ages. You arrive at the islands by boat. Here is a view of the palace.

Borromaen island

Another excursion we often made was to the town of Luino, just down the lake in Italy. They have a famous market each week, mostly a tourist thing, but you can buy all sorts of Italian specialities there. Usually the opportunity was taken to get a leather coat or jacket, as they were quite reasonable, although I am not sure about their quality. I did buy one, but on the ship on the way back the customs made their inspections and it cost a little bit more after paying the valued added tax on it.

The holiday soon came to an end and we had to return through the Gotthard mountains. It seems that once we actually did drive over the Gotthard mountain and here is a photo of my husband and oldest son at the top of the pass.

on top of the Gotthard

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