I had been to Switzerland once before, to Zurich for a work trip. I didn’t really see much of Zurich, unless you count the inside of an office block and the hotel bar. So my experience of Switzerland was one of business and corporate routine. I knew I had to discover what else Switzerland had to offer, so I hopped on a plan to the southern area of Ticino. Although my first true Swiss experience was a little more Italian…
Until a few months ago I believed Switzerland was French-German. What I failed to realise was that it is in fact French-German-Italian. Ticino is an area in Switzerland whose mother tongue is Italian. The influences are visible, from the housing style to the food. Unlike Zurich where it’s hearty sausages and potatoes on the menu, here is it pasta and lots and lots of fresh bread.
The only time I’ve been to Italy was on a school trip to Rome. We ate generic food like chips in the hotel every night, and it was about 10 years go so I don’t remember too much. However from what I imagine Italy to be like, Ticino ticks all those boxes, with a little more. Think Italian flare, with Swiss efficiency. Best of both worlds.
I arrived at the hotel mid-afternoon, only to practically swoon when I saw it. All my romanticised visions were coming true.
How utterly gorgeous is this?
Giardino Ascona is the most beautiful, relaxing and almost magical hotel is Ascona.
As soon as I arrive, I was offered a drink in the garden, only to find myself with guests.
After spending a good while just being enchanted by my surroundings, I padded upstairs to my new bedroom.
A gorgeous mix of country and Mediterranean style.
After a quick freshen up, it was time to explore. It was quite late in the afternoon, but there's always time for wine.
Just round the corner from the hotel is Terreni alla Maggia, a farm and vineyard, producing some of the finest wines in Switzerland. I have never thought of Swiss wine before, but let me tell you. Ticino wines... wow. Over my next few blog posts. I'm going to be talking about wine alot.
The farm and vineyard is open to wander around, and as my first impression of the landscape, it gave amazing views. Ticino stole my heart in less than an hour of arriving,
As well as wine, they produce cereal, fruit and also Switzerland only home grown rice.
The shop sells the most amazing produce, and the wine is really reasonably priced too.
Oh and if you are nice, you might get to sample some.
After picking up some goodies for my friends back home, it was almost time for dinner.
The hotel has two restaurants, Aphrodite and Ecco. Ecco actually a 2 Michelin starred restaurant. We were booked in, but sadly that day the kitchen suffered a flood. However when Aphrodite has this view, to be honest, I really didn't mind!
Remember my last post about cold soup? I seem to can't get away from it. But like I said before, it's a grower.
The first course arrived and I have to say it looked delicious. Prawns, coconut, avocado, paprika salad. It was delicious. Such an fresh burst of flavours, and me, Laura Hyatt who hates avocado (I know, I know) actually enjoyed them.
After devouring the starter, the main arrived. Lamb with may look like crackling, but is in fact fried lasgana sheets. I know, right, not what I expected, but boy did it work.
Finally dessert came. Rhubarb cheesecake. I adore rhubarb so much.
I have to say, the food was delicious, and very not Swiss in my eyes, which is the beauty of Ticino. It's such a wonderful, almost hidden gem. An area of Switzerland that is so unique, with an amazing identity and culture quite unlike the rest of it's country.
Soon night fell and it was of to bed, eager to fall asleep just so I could start a whole new day of exploring. More adventures tomorrow on the blog.
*A big thank you to SWISS airlines for providing my flights. SWISS (swiss.com) flies to Switzerland from the UK from £55 one-way’ that would be ideal.