I had craving for cheese this afternoon which reminded me that the annual Bellinzona cheese market takes place this weekend in Bellinzona, Switzerland. Bellinzona is one of those quietly elegant border towns that feels more distinctly Italian than it does Swiss. Resting on the border between Italy and Switzerland, Bellinzona lies at the heart of a romantic, Italian speaking region called Ticino.
DH Lawrence once described the Ticino in writing, “It is strange how different the sun-dried, ancient, southern slopes of the world are, from the northern slopes. It is as if the god Pan really had his home among these sunbleached stones and tough, sun-dark trees. So I was content coming down into Airolo…”
We often send our guests to the Ticino because it offers an irresistible finale to hikes traversing the Engadine region lying just next door.
This weekend, Friday, October 16-Sunday, October 18, 2009, the Ticinese Alpine cheese producers will descend upon Bellinzona and parade their mountain cheeses at the traditional cheese market. The historic square and the radiating alleyways of old-town transform into the kind of colorful market typically reserved for story books and fairy tales. Market goers enjoy prominently featured Ticino cheeses, as well as local wines, breads, handicrafts and a large variety of fresh produce from local agriculture. Many local restaurants also offer traditional Ticinese cuisine like risotto and polenta, making for a delicious autumn lunch served al fresca.
I won’t be able to make it to the market this weekend, but I’m dropping a big hint to any guests that might be reading this from the trail. Treat yourself to this colorful, atmospheric event.