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12 myths about Switzerland (and whether they’re true or not)

Myths about Switzerland

Say you're a regular Italian who happens to move to Switzerland.

You start your new life and slowly learn all the habits and peculiarities of your new country. Time passes, and you get used to them. You forget you live in a country that, to other Italians, is sometimes imagined as strange and exotic.

Whenever you travel home and meet those friends who have hardly ever visited Switzerland, you are faced with questions and myths about this country. And then you realize that some of your fellow Italians have an idea of Switzerland that is, in fact, a myth! They're full of bizarre details that may not entirely be true.

Here are the most common yet weird myths about Switzerland that Italian expats hear when they visit home:


"You live in Switzerland, therefore you must be rich."

Answer: Think again... Sure, Switzerland has higher wages than most countries. But it is also true that everything is much more expensive than in other countries. Just like in every other corner of the world, there are people who struggle to pay their bills in Switzerland, too.

(Oh, and please don't ask about our wages and our money. It makes us feel uncomfortable.)


"People speak German in Ticino."

Answer: False. Ticino is an Italian speaking canton, which means that people speak Italian.


"And in the whole of Switzerland, everybody speaks Swiss."

Answer: Uhm, nope. We have four official languages and everyone is expected to speak at least one of those, but The Swiss Language? It does not exist. This is a great map to help you figure out how languages are distributed in Switzerland:

Swiss Languages Map Babbel(Map copyright

"Your sons were born in Switzerland. This means they're Swiss."

Answer: No, they're not. Contrary to what everyone assumes in Italy, being born here does not automatically make you a Swiss. A Swiss passport is something that you must earn through years and years of Swiss life, Swiss schools, Swiss local activities and, in most cases, an oral exam to test your Swissness.


"The average meal in Switzerland is some kind of potato plus some kind of sausage."

Answer: False-ish. This may be true on some level, especially if you have only ever been to Switzerland once or twice. But there is more variety food in Switzerland than you would imagine. Ticino eats mostly like its neighbor region, Lombardy: Risotto, polenta, freshwater fish, handmade pasta.

The food of the Alps is tasty and offers a variety of soups and local cheeses. And even the simple rösti can rise to a form of art with the right ingredients. So, do not focus on the wienerli and pommes - Swiss food can be a surprise!


"The Swiss eat a lot of chocolate."

Answer: Can't deny it. Seriously, can you blame them? Have you seen the chocolate isle in the local grocery store? Also, there is so much more to chocolate than an average milk chocolate bar. Try dark chocolate with almond flakes. White chocolate. Small boxes of handmade pralines. Seriously, it's bliss!


"Kids in Switzerland are sooo polite!"

Answer: False. The Italians have this myth of oh-so polite Swiss children. Sorry guys: Brats and bullies are everywhere. Italians have the myth of the "Swiss school" where everyone looks and acts like in a 19th century novel.


"In fact, everyone in Switzerland is sooo nice!"

Answer: Almost, but not quite. The Swiss are often described as being so nice. Truth is, they are nice as long as you are nice to them. True, they don't argue. But they follow the rules, and they expect you to do the same.

If you do not, expect angry letters and expensive fines. The Swiss will show no mercy should you break even the simplest of the rules, especially the ones most dear to them: Like not parking your car in the assigned place, bringing out the trash on the wrong day or stealing your neighbor's laundry turn!


"No doubt, cows are everywhere in Switzerland!"

Answer: True. At first I thought it was just a myth. You know, people imagining Switzerland and its green grass meadows... But then I moved to Switzerland and I realized: Cows are in fact everywhere! And they are so cute!


"Since you get a lot of snow, everyone skis in Switzerland!"

Answer: True-ish. It is a fact that skiing is considered a basic activity in Switzerland - so much so that it is included in the school curriculum. (Think a compulsory week of skiing in the mountains every winter.) But not every canton gets a lot of snow. Ticino is a bit colder than northern Italy, but overall only gets a few snow days per year.

So no, not every single Swiss lives in a Winter Wonderland.


"Everything is better in Switzerland because you don't have so much immigration."

Answer: Uhm, no? Actually. Switzerland has a huge percentage of immigrants (28.9%) compared to Italy (8.3%). Perhaps we should just stop blaming it on the immigrants?


And finally: My personal favorite: "Switzerland has four cantons, yes?"

Answer: False! Because, well, geography. But we *did* get asked it, once!


Alessandra is a "kinda creative gal" who came from Milano to live in Lugano. She loves vintage stuff, photography, street art, and typography. She eats a lot of spaghetti, drinks coffee all day long, and shares her unique insights with you!


  • First of all, I absolutely love the idea of taking common myths about a country and proving them wrong. It’s interesting to see which myths I had myself, like everyone seeming to be extra nice, but it’s awesome to learn that everyone is nice if you are nice yourself! I think my most common assumption as I have been learning about Switzerland would be that everyone is a farmer and there are lots of cows just roaming around everywhere, but I now realize that the cows are mostly on farms in the country, and that every single person doesn’t have a cow in their backyard! I do have some more myths that I am curious about, as listed below:
    This is a silly one, but does everyone in Switzerland wear watches? Or just those who have personal preferences to wear one?
    Is healthcare in Switzerland extremely good? All I hear about when talking about good healthcare systems is Switzerland!
    It seems like the Swiss Alps are an extremely formidable place, and only farmers and crazy skiers live there. How many people actually live there? Are there “mountain towns” within the Alps that are different from cities? Or is all of Switzerland just mountains?
    Is the cheese made by farmers good? I know it can’t be taken out of the country, so is it something that everyone needs to try before they die?
    Thank you for taking the time to write this blog, I loved reading it!

    • Dear Mia! Thank you very much for your curious comment. It looks like we have enough material for a follow-up post on common myths! Let me inform the team, and please let us know if you come up with additional questions or myths… Best, Dimitri

  • C’mon it sounds a bit made up…If you are from Milano, people can’t really think that in Ticino ,which is few steps from it, people speak German.
    All Italians knows about Ticino and they can’t name any other canton.

    As well, either I’m lucky, but as an average young IT, who lives in Geneva, second most expensive swiss city, I really can’t see how people spend all their money here.
    I travel every weekend, eat out sometimes, have some beer and yet I save at least 1/3 of my salary. I
    Guess it’s because I come for a poor background and I kept my humble life style. As I see that a lot of people, as they have more money, became more materialistic.

    • Hi thandnow, thank you for your comment :)

      You should probably consider other points of view, such as people living in the rest of Italy and large families with only one income.

      This is not a list of what every Italian thinks, but the strangest “myths” I’ve collected over the years.

  • Culinary in Switzerland is a disaster.If you visit an average restaurant where you pay 25-35 chf for the main course the food is 90% fried (even the vegetables) and the portion is very small.Finding plates cooked in the oven ,boiled or even grilled is the exception in Switzerland. Last but not least sausages is not considered main course and it’s the most unhealthy good in the world.


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