Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gordevio - Where Is That?

Throughout my life, persons hearing my surname for the first time would frequently ask the question: "Are you Italian?" Except when I considered the questioner insincere, I would immediately answer in a manner similar to what I had heard my dad respond since I was young: "No, I'm Swiss. My ancestors were from the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland." Sometimes I would even explain that my ancestors were from Swiss villages that are around 30 miles from the Swiss border with Italy. It was always my sense that those who asked were generally uninformed about the fact that there is no "Swiss" language -- and I often took the opportunity to explain/educate just as I had heard dad do. However, until I began to study and plan for our first visit to Switzerland in 2005, I was ignorant of the fact that only about 8 to 11% (depending on the source) of the population of Switzerland speaks Italian as their primary language. Geographically, Italian is the primary language only of residents of the Ticino canton (cantons are easiest thought of as roughly equivalent to a state in the USA). Ticino is one of 26 cantons (3 are divided into "half-cantons") which is south of the Swiss Alps and borders Italy. The municipality of Gordevio is estimated to now have a population of around 800 and is located in one of two so-called "dead-end valleys" in the heart of Ticino. Someo is about 6 miles deeper in the same valley (called Valle Maggia). The two valleys are referred to as "dead-end" because they do just that -- come to dead-ends south of the Alps.

This link will take you to a map that shows Gordevio and Someo -- and you can zoom out to get a perspective of the rest of Switzerland -- including the city we are flying into, the largest city in Switzerland - Zurich:,+switzerland&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=35.684144,81.738281&ie=UTF8&om=1&ll=46.262968,8.813782&spn=0.243526,0.63858&z=11

No comments: