Clear blue skies are above, willow trees and cherry blossoms are swinging in the breeze, and dozens of stork couples have started building nests. Spring is definitely here in the Central Switzerland!
And if you warp through the 16 km long Gotthard tunnel to Ticino, the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, it feels like early summer caressing your face with all the energy you have missed during the long gray winter.
Not only the sun is brighter there, but also those old building walls are merrier painted in pink, moss green, blue, orange, moccha, and gäggeligääl ("Züri-Deutsch" to describe the typical yellow of a child’s rain boots).
For many Swiss residents, Ticino is reachable by car or train within two hours, and that it is the weekend gateway to escape from the (sometimes ugly) northern weather and to recharge their vitamin D under the tall palm trees.
Ticino is also the destination for healthy retirement - Italian style. It comes with good food, fancy convertibles, vivid fashion, and endless chatting on the street, on park benches, or in corner cafés.
If I ever spend my 70’s (and up) in Switzerland, I would want to live in Ascona. Put more realistically, if I could afford it with my retirement benefits and savings... As a Japanese female with the world record longevity in Switzerland, the country with some of the highest living costs... sigh...
Whatever waits in the future, Ascona and Locarno will always be full of sunshine and seasonal flowers. Surely enough, the same tropical heaven welcomed me last weekend in Ascona.
We've also (nearly) visited the famous Camelia Festival in Locarno
On the way back to Zürich, I stopped by Parco delle Camelie in Locarno. I was one day too soon for the International Camelie exhibition. However, the park was ready to show off its hundreds of gorgeous camelie flowers hanging like heavy grapefruits.
Camellias are rose like flowers without the sweet fragrance, and many have interesting names like “Cup of Beauty”, “Satan’s Robe”, and "Sayonara" (good-bye in Japanese). Many have poetic Japanese names, too, such as "Minato-no-akebono" (dawn in the port), "Otohime" (princess of the sea), and "Hagoromo" (a nymph’s magic scarf to fly), and so on.
Those Japanese camellia kinds made me a bit nostalgic about Japan, and I hope that the exhibit would someday include translations of those precious names.