At the foot of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Monte San Giorgio, Meride has just one road running through it, and cars may not park inside the village.
As a small number of tourists converge in the square with gelatos and a beer, what is the reality of living in such a minute village?
It is oddly quiet here at the moment. Tourists have been put off by the temperamental weather and Ticino's storms of late shook the 13th-century church so violently that the bells broke. The emptiness left is somewhat eerie, and it makes waking up that much harder. What we had embraced as a natural alarm clock has been replaced by the tring-tring of a mobile phone.
Indulgently nostalgic, Meride has just one road running through it. We diligently park the car at the foot of the village, and it is ten minutes by foot to our apartment. Our landlady, whose ancestors have roots in the village since the 13th century, had warned us about the parking situation and we had scoffed, kidding ourselves that we were not car reliant.
Now I am waiting for the day when our patience deserts us, seeing us shout expletives as we are forced to route-mark uphill in the wintertime.
334 to one
According to the official records, there are 345 residents in the village, which at 586 m above sea level always has a slight breeze. But I can go days without seeing anyone, other than one slightly paunchy old man, who passes my window almost religiously at midday.
My partner, who leaves for work much earlier, swears blind that certain doorways only exist at 7 AM. On both his left and right, people emerge from concealed entrances, hidden doors within the stone walls, bidding goodbye to the sleepy village, leaving it to nap dutifully in their absence.
I am here most of the day. Accompanied by the now silent church bells and darting lizards, I roam the street, nipping down alleyways, through arched gateways and high up the mountainside to gaze down over the village.
From one red bench, I can see the two churches (one is now redundant as it was deemed to far from the village center), the square with its summertime only café, the vineyards on either side of the village, even our home and its expansive garden over the village's low-lying plateau.
Meride is famous – it is true! It appears in all the guidebooks, you can see it for yourself. This makes me oddly proud. It is certainly charming, possessing a wistful sense of rustic heritage and forgotten beauty.
Even six months before we moved here, we had run from Arzo to Serpiano, over Poncione d'Arzo, Pravello and San Giorgio, before ending up in Meride. Ravenous, we saw a decrepit sign for a restaurant. I had asked for food, and the cluster of old men had merely snorted.
"Food?" they had responded. "We only eat red wine here."
Now, as we bump into hikers from further afield on our runs on Monte San Giorgio, we gloat inwardly: Our mountain, we are the residents, this is our playground.
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