| Culture, Environment, Lifestyle,

Ticino Gourmet Tour

Beatrice Lessi

Where am I?

Plop. Clank!

I hear all of a sudden, when the limousine driver takes my luggage out of her taxi, puts in on the ground with a thud, and closes the trunk.

“You need to walk, from here to the winery. I can’t go any further; the road is too tight for my car. You’ll find it!”

She says, looking a bit unsure.

I look ahead the beautiful lines of wine grapes. There is something indeed, up there. Good job I am fit, because this is steep! There is no road anymore, and I need to drag my trolley, camera and computer, all the way up, hoping to find a beautiful cantina. I wonder if it’s worth the sweat?

Eat. Drink. Discover.

When I finally get to Cantina Monti, I somehow expect them to make a bit of a fuss about me, carrying my own luggage to such a spot. Will they congratulate me, or something? Instead, some workers calmly welcome me, like they already know me, or I’m part of the family.

”Yes, it is tough to get here”, says Ivo, the owner, while slicing some bread and cheese, and preparing some water and wine, with a smile. We enter his beautiful living room, and it’s like stepping back in time.

“I’ll show you how we make wine. The inclination doesn’t allow a mechanised production. This is the Ticino that used to be”, he adds.

The fire is popping and crackling, glasses are shining, lake Lugano appears an all its splendour from the big window, some beautiful cow bells hang from the ceiling, a hat collection covers a wall, and Ivo is telling me the story of this place. I am speechless. He used to be a sailor, has traveled in the whole world, knows the village in Italy I am from, and has bought this gorgeous land when nobody wanted it, because it was too rough, and too far from the comfortable city life.

His dad produced the first barrique by pressing it with a hand handled  hopper, and destemming it by hand, on a chicken grid. Today, Ivo is the President and Ticino and Switzerland’s wine growers, and his daughter is now working in the family business too.

Two hours fly in a moment, in the peace of Cantina Monti. If you want to eat, drink, relax and discover, Ticino never disappoints, and Cantina Monti is a real gem.

The most original skier

Time to go to my hotel, which I have found on the Ticino Gourmet Tour website, like Cantina Monti.

How many times have you been on holiday and wished you could call a local friend and get advice about a good restaurant, and a visit to the area? Knowing some of the team behind Ticino Gourmet Tour, I now know this is the place to look: my local friend.

Among the most scenic hotels, I pick Kurhaus Cademario.

I check in. The first thing I see is a naked man. Skiing! That gives me a big smile. The guy is facing freezing temperatures dressed in his birthday suit. It is one of the beautiful, huge vintage photos that tell the history of the hotel.

The naked man is the founder himself, Dr.Keller, who came to Cademario more than 100 years ago, and chose this hill for its very special energy. I am sure some people, at the time, considered him crazy. Today he would be called a visonary. He understood holistic treatments when holistic wasn’t even a word. He integrated Asian medicine to the traditional Western approach when nobody thought of that, and, yes, he also used cold exposure as a way to improve his condition, and that one of his patients. By skiing naked, if necessary.

Dr.Keller, founder of Kurhaus Cademario

The Spa

And I can tell you something about this place: he was right. There is an energy here, especially in the spa, that is immediately tangible (and has been studied and certified too).

I can sure feel it. I planned to relax between marathons, in my training break, so that’s why I chose this place. After one afternoon, my backache is gone.

Ok, it’s also because I get the best massage of my life, a ritual called Energy Flow, that lasts 120 min, by a masseuse, Maria Luisa, who seems to know my body better than myself. She makes a pressure on the right spots, and my muscles – that have been quite contracted, after 30 hours of flying economy and running a marathon – feel like new.

The indoor pool

La Cucina

I dine in the hotel, where I ask for a vegetarian option  (I try to limit the amount of meat I eat, but I don’t want to eat boring!), and a colorful, juicy meal arrives. Ristorante la Cucina  prepares a velvety asparagus soup, a delicious salmon course, and a combination of vegetables and fluffy potatoes, violet and orange and yellow and green.

The bonus is the lake Lugano view, which is magical even on a cloudy day.

How to spend the day after

The day after, when spending a weekend in Ticino, offers countless options, especially in the nature. But today it’s still mixed weather, so I decide to enjoy a swim in the outdoor pool, and a whirlpool massage under the rain drops. The temperature is perfect, the clouds are pierced by the occasional ray of sun, the trees are bright and shiny, I come out of the water and, for a moment, I see a rainbow.

Ok, I have swum and hit the gym, which means I have burnt enough to allow myself a wonderful meal in my favorite restaurant in Ticino (I know it already):Ristorante Badalucci

With Marco Badalucci

Ristorante Badalucci

Am I in Lugano, or in Procida? There is sun on my plate, and I can smell the sea. I’m lucky because Marco Badalucci, today, takes time to sit at my table and explain some of the dishes.

Imagine a cherry tomato. How can it be that interesting? I put it in my mouth and BOOM. What is this? I ask him. He smiles.

”It’s one of our signature dishes. I empty it, and fill it up with mint water and a pecorino mousse. Everybody reacts like you!” , he explains.

I get a fabulous full meal, watching art (all paintings are made by Marco’s mum) and tasting the best fish you can have in Switzerland.

I finish with a dessert that sounds like a polenta dish with vegetables, but no: it tastes sweet, and surprises me with its classic – but bold – taste. I still don’t get where the polenta is, but who cares? I am ending up on a super high note.

Lunch is completed with a present: a poetry book, by Marco’s father. I post two pages of it on Instagram,  and have so many comments: poetry can be very sensual, and go straight to the heart.


“Food and wine tour Lugano”, “bike’n’wine”, “cruise & cook”, “bread and cake workshop”, “itineraries almond the vineyards”, “the world of beer”: these are some of the ideas you can find with the  Ticino Gourmet Tour. I went for the healthy option, and it was fun and glamorous. I am now home, refreshed and energised. A tour to repeat soon!










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