Flicking through this stunning magazine helps you appreciate the time less value and charm of the printed word. And its elegance is the perfect match for the beauty of Ascona, a town that has created poetry in its dialogue with the region, and that has chosen to resist the concrete invasion and so pre- serve its unique, fairy-tale feel. A gem that over- looks Lake Maggiore and that is caressed by the Inverna, the southerly wind that brings joy most- ly to sailing enthusiasts, but which can also send balls off course, dashing golfers’ hopes of finding the hole! To round off this work of beauty, is worth exploring the arteries of Ascona – its fascinating and enigmatic valleys.

German-speaking seniors like to move to Ticino; that is well known. However, why are people of working age settling in the South Canton? Often this happens, directly or indirectly, for emotional reasons but equally for love of the southern Helvetic landscape. Both are a great motivation for finding a job in Ticino. If these working people put down roots in Ascona on Lake Maggiore, they must overcome a typically Nordic way of thinking: “The sun shines so wonderfully in the blue sky, so you should take a stroll or at least walk along the lake’s shore.” Many newcomers feel, at least in the early days, as if they were on a kind of long-term vacation. However, the bright sunshine all year round is a real feature of this southern canton - and it makes the workday decidedly less grey. German-speaking people working in Ascona, are lured not only by this, but also by the famous lake promenade, called simply “Piazza”, flanked by a picturesque village centre, wonderful old plane trees and a unique view across the lakefront to Italy. Thus the Piazza represents a permanent invitation to a coffee break. There is more: that is not all: in the middle of the Piazza, just where new young plane trees were planted and the lake view is therefore the best, German-speaking visitors have even more to do: the “Biblioteca Popolare”, Ascona’s lending library. Either side of the entrance, you will find benches made of stone, and these are very popular in winter because they offer the best place in the Ticino winter sun. Even when it gets very cold, you can sit outside the library, at lunchtime with only with a shirt on. As most of the holiday guests are German-speaking, the library can score points with one more special feature: it is the only public library in Ticino that has more books in German than in Italian. If you settle down in the reading room with the many newspapers and magazines (or take them to the “reading garden”), there is even a better experience: holding NZZ (Neue ZürcherZeitung) you can enjoy the best lake view a library can offer in Switzerland. The library is also a place of cultural interaction. 

 

 

These are wild, deep places, slowly sculpted by- glaciers, and they provide the magnetic draw of the unknown that has always fascinated humanity. Nowadays you can drive there or, even better, use public transport. But my reason for writing this ar- ticle is to strongly recommend that you visit them by bicycle. In recent years, various cycle routes and wooden walkways have opened in Vallemag- gia. These ambitious public projects make cycling even safer and more enjoyable for the numerous cyclists who, whether for sport or for tourism, choose to abandon the tranquility of the lake to explore an exciting location. For those doubting their fitness, modern electric bikes allow people of all ages to explore the region on two wheels. In ad- dition, some of the fittest and boldest visitors to the region explore its hidden corners on foot, run- ning along paths trodden by wild animals and, in the past, by farming men and women, their backs bent double by the weight of their baskets. It goes without saying that at some point you’ll need to stop to recharge your batteries and replace those calories burned on the ride. With time to relax, the only choice is which grotto to settle on. Most offer traditional Ticinese food and drink at tables and benches made from locally sourced granite. Typical dishes on offer are, local cheese and cured meat platters, washed down with a Ticino wine – often served in a “boccalino* or “tazzine” (small glass or ceramic carafes) but everything in mod- eration in order to enjoy the rest of the day! The majority of Vallemaggia’s settlements are still set around an ancient structure, like a child’s drawing, where the civil architecture is centred on religion, with a church, cemetery and an ossuary. 

 

For historical, cultural and religious interest, I invite readers to admire the way death is depict- ed on the churches, ossuaries and chapels. They are symbols of social equality which, in their simplicity and directness, remind us that we are mere- ly passing through this land. Stopping, even just for a moment, and contemplating these allegories helps us to understand ourselves better, providing an escape from the pace of our everyday working life. Going to discover Vallemaggia can be a sort of pilgrimage, a brief journey into the past and in- to our inner world. Perhaps this is the reason for the sensation of cultural and spiritual enrichment you get on returning to your nest which may be (one of the many welcoming hotels in Ascona). 

 

And after a reinvigorating shower or a dive into the lake, and having surrendered to the joys of thestreets of the town of Ascona, where you can enjoyshopping and a feeling of not having a care inthe world. It’s worth stopping to celebrate Happy Hour with a cocktail, in true Mediterranean style.

 

What could be better than a photo with a drinkagainst the backdrop of the lake to share online and increase your social media standing? An unforgettable and perfect experience, like the perfectly smooth stones along the river Maggia, bearing silent witness to the slow and incessant action of the water, fed by the power of the majestic waterfalls that bring the valleys of the Locarno district to life. The magic of Vallemaggia will steal its way into your heart.