Friday, May 31, 2013

What is the Swiss 3-pillar system?

The Swiss pension system is divided into state pensions, occupational benefits insurance and private pensions. Upon retirement or in the event of disability or death, the financial security of every person and their relatives rests on these three Pillars.
  • the 1st pillar is obligatory for everyone and includes Old Age and Survivors' Insurance OASI, Disability Insurance DI, Ordinance on Compensation for Loss of Income and health insurance.
  • the 2nd pillar is obligatory for those in employment and includes occupational pension funds, accident insurance and unemployment insurance.
  • the 3d pillar is voluntary and includes qualified savings plans, free savings plans and private health insurance.

The Private pension – 3rd pillar allows you to save for your retirement in addition to what the 1st and 2nd pillars offer you. A distinction is drawn between tied pension provision and flexible pension provision. What is particularly attractive about the tied provision pillar is that it makes it possible to save tax. By contrast, the flexible pillar generally does not offer any tax privileges, but it does give you greater flexibility.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Summer Camps in Lugano 2013

Looking for Summer Camps for your kids? Now is the time to register to make sure you get a space.

The most famous English-speaking Summer Camp must be the Amercian School in Switzerland called Tasis: However, this might not be what you are looking for.

The next option would be to check out Ticino per Bambini's extensive summer camp list. If it is not on the list it doesn't exsist! Take your time and wade through their site. You are sure to find something:

Another option is the wildlife summer camps with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Hurry, these camps are very popluar and fill up fast. The site link is:

Sports oriented camps are organized by the A-Club in Savosa. The Fitness & Swim Club offers a varied summer programme every year, although it is in Italian, there are usually a few foreigners who participate.This is their link:

Happy Camping!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Open days in Ticino's wine cellars

There is no need to be an expert, just curious! There is no need to spend lots of money, just the right value. You SHOULD however, enjoy yourself and let yourself be carried away by your senses.

Over 40 wineries throughout the Ticino are opening their doors this weekend for you to taste their vineyards' products and visit the wineries.

For some years now, many of Ticino's wine producers have been opening their doors, with justifiable pride, to show visitors the products of their work. Tasting is permitted of the local Merlots as well as innovative combinations and experiments (dessert wines, ancient rediscovered vines and much more).

Accompanied by cheeses, cold meats and music, Ticino's best wines blossom!

The Swiss being true to themselves are terribly organized. Ticinowine, sensitive to ecological issues, have organized a service of circular busses together with RailAway and PostBus, which tour between the various cellars adhering to the event. This service allows the visitors travelling by train and those, who don't want to use their own car, to move without problems between the locations.

For more detailed informaton, click here:
For an extensive list of all participating wineries click here:
To print the flyer, click here:

A little tip: my personal favourite is Osteria Grotto Piccolo Vigneto in Albonago.

Venue: Open wine cellar days in Ticino
Where: Throughout the Ticino
When: May 25th and 26th, 2013
Time: 10:00 - 18:00

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Meet Up with Lugano Expats for an Aperitivo at the Lanchetta

Feel like meeting new people? Looking to hook up with other Expats in Lugano?

The Expat community in Lugano is growing and is more organized than ever. Tonight it is MeetUp time. Meetups are neighbors getting together to learn something, do something and share something. All you need to do is sign up here:

Enjoy a nice aperitivo in one of the best lounge-bars on the lakeside of Lugano. Nearly 50 people are attending tonight's get-together at the "Lanchetta" at 7pm.

The organizers are looking forward to see you and spend a great evening together, meeting new people and lifting your glasses and spirits high!

So sign up, and since you're at it, check out the pictures of our previous MeetUps!

Venue: MeetUp Aperitivo
Where: La Lanchetta, Viale Castagnola 16, Lugano
When: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Swimming in the lake

Spring, blue skies, sun, luxurious plants in bloom. The green with its fragrances enchants us all and demands a stop. From Caslano to Castagnola and Melide to Bissone, you need only pause a moment to calmly select which beach to visit. It is a tradition in Switzerland to swim in the lakes. A fact my Italian hubby who grew up along the seaside cannot get his mind around.

What about the 80'000 m2 of lakefront on Lake Maggiore, shaded by centuries-old trees and 600 meters of sandy beach? The Ceresio shores welcome you with their fine sand beach leading directly to the lake. And don't forget the sandy banks of many rivers that in places offer astounding pools of water with micro-beaches.

Ticino is generous but above all organized and well-equipped, and it offers so much for adults and children, who can play and cool off in pools dedicated to them. And what's more, between a dive and a swim, there is room for a beach volley match and for healthy laughter watching the children on the playground and the young boys showing off on the springboard.

And when the sun fades, lights and good music come on: shores and beaches don evening wear to enjoy a good aperitif and meet friendly new people. In brief: in Ticino shores and beaches are worth a visit, while your "thoughts"... stay offshore!

One last little tip: Laghetto di Astano

Monday, May 20, 2013

Big projects for Lugano's future

Lugano is living an extraordinarily dynamic moment and it has been able to increase its inhabitants (over 57’000) and its territory (31.2 km2) by adding adjacent villages to its realm. The city is in the process of defining projects which will shape its future development. They regard architectural projects, urban projects and projects to improve the mobility. In the next few years, these interventions will define the face and character of the city.

In particular the projects are:

- the AlpTransit project which will bring Southern Europe sensibly closer to northern Europe in the next years
- the new FFS giving new prestige to the area of Besso
- the restructuring of the Lungolago walkway
- the renovation of the mouth of the Cassarate river
- the new cultural centre LAC (Lugano Arte e Cultura)
- the urban redevelopment of Pian Scairolo
- the creation of the new quarter of Cornaredo
- the building of a new exhibition area and the reconstruction of the northern side of Campo Marzio
- the enlarging of the University Campus
- the completion of the Vedeggio-Cassarate tunnel
- the improvement of the road network and conditions in the Lugano area
- the public transportation plan of the Lugano area (PTL)
- the airport of Agno

All of these projects represent different ways of building the future and aim towards the concept of a city which rotates around its historical downtown centre.

So keep your eyes open and you'll discover something new everytime you stroll around town.

Friday, May 17, 2013

French Strawberry Hearts recipe

Given the bad weather outside rather than providing you with an excursion tip I thought I'd delight you with a recipe that will keep your kids busy at home. T'is the strawberry season and we have spent the last two months eating strawberries with cream and sugar. I therefore decided to come up with a new twist to our habitual pudding:

500gr Gariguette strawberries from France

Sweet dough:
220 gr flour
120 gr glazed sugar
90 g butter
1 good pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of chemical yeast
1 small egg

50 gr butter
50 gr sugar
1 egg
50 gr ground almonds
1 tablespoon of flour
70 gr  cheese spread
1 untreated green lemon

1.) Make the sourdough by mixing the flour, the glazed sugar, the butter, salt and yeast until you obtain a fine sandy texture. Be careful not to overheat the butter.
2.) Add the egg
3.) Roll the dough in a ball and set aside for 1 hour minimum.
4.) Flatten the dough on a paper cooking sheet and spread it into a buttered heart shaped mold. Cut off the extra around the mold.
5.) Make it all slide on a cooking grid and precook the pie crust for 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 200°C.
6.) Prepare the cream by mixing the butter and sugar.
7.) Add the egg. Mix well.
8.) Add the ground almonds and the flour
9.) Finally mix in cheese spread and the zest of grated green lemon.
10.) Pour this cream on the precooked sour dough and bake for 10 minutes at 200°C.
Let the pie cool down.
11.) Remove the strawberry stems, cut them in half and lay on the pie in heart-shaped formation.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ticino Discovery Card ... more than just a card!

With the long weekend coming up, would you like to travel around Ticino for 3 out of 7 days for 87 CHF only? Here is the solution.

Take advantage of a universal and practical Ticino Discovery Card. You can use it to travel with the public and tourist transportation within the Canton Ticino. But that's not all! To enrich the offer there are also several tourist attractions, all included in the price of this advantageous card, that you can reach and visit easily by taking advantage of an ecological mobility with a full respect of nature!

This card is a modern and easy solution, allowing you to travel comfortably by bus, train, railway, funicular, cable car or boat and giving you the possibility to explore the beauty of the area.

The price of the tourist card is unbeatable: CHF 87. - for 3 days chosen out of 7 days.
Half-price, Swisspass and SBB GA subscribers only pay CHF 77.-.
For young people aged between 6 and 16 years the price is CHF 47.-.
The total value of the services offered by the Ticino Discovery Card is very attractive and allows you to enjoy real savings.

From March 16th until November 3rd, the cards can be purchased at the counters of some transport companies, train stations, as well as travel agencies, affiliated hotels and local tourist offices.

Click here to see the brochure: Ticino Discovery Card
Click here for a few suggestions: Excursions

Have fun and enjoy discovering the Ticino!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Looking for a group of 3-4 to dare the Verzasca Bungee Jump

"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

You may have heard of House Hunters, the top-rated HGTV series, that follows buyers and their agents as they tour homes for sale. It is produced by a TV production company in the U.S. called High Noon Entertainment.

Well, this same TV production company is producing a new Travel Channel series called “RIDE-iculous” which will premiere this summer and the Casting Producer is looking for YOU!

The show travels internationally featuring unique and amazing rides. Tina Seiler will be coming to Lugano, Switzerland on May 27, 2013, filming the 007 Dam Jump.

They are looking for a group of 3-4 attractive and outgoing friends to jump off the same Verzasca dam that James Bond once did in the opening scene of "Golden Eye", as they film. Expats and locals living in and around Lugano are welcome to sign up.

The company that operates out of the dam is a fully licensed company and has express permission from the owner and operator of the dam to conduct these jumps. Only one jumper is allowed at a time and there are various jump types available based on skill and experience.

Which one of you will dare to take the world's craziest jump, throwing themselves at the end of an elastic rope off the top of the Verzasca dam, which is a good 200 metres high and surrounded by the narrow rocky walls of the mouth of the Verzasca Valley. You'll never again produce so much adrenaline in one go!

Everyone in the group must be over 21 years of age, English speaking and available for the entire day. High Noon Entertainment can offer each person $50 for their participation, reimbursement for all travel expenses, and food and beverages throughout the day. After the episode has aired, they promise to send you a DVD of the show.

Ready for that thrill? Contact Tina Seiler: or 001/303-872-8760

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A picturesque hike down Monte Bré

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. "
John Muir

Thursday, May 2, 2013

How to travel across Ticino

Did you know that children can travel across all of Switzerland throughout the year for CHF 30.- if accompanied by parents or grandparents?

Have you heard of the latest Arcobaleno passes?

The Arcobaleno tickets are the latest development in the new Integrated Fare. The tickets on offer range from single tickets to tickets that save you time and money, such as the multi-journey travelcard and the multi-day travelcard.

The new Arcobaleno Integrated Fare is an important step forward in encouraging the use of public transport, as it makes access to its services even easier. The logic behind the Arcobaleno pass has now been extended to tickets: it is no longer necessary to purchase a ticket for single journeys (e.g. Lugano – Bellinzona), but rather a ticket for one or several zones that you can use to travel freely on all the means of public transport within the given validity period. Changing from one means of transport to another using only one ticket.

All Arcobaleno tickets and passes are accepted by the following transport companies:
Autolinee Bleniesi (ABL) -
Autolinea Mendrisiense (AMSA) -
Autolinee Regionali Luganesi (ARL) -
AutoPostale Svizzera SA - Regione Ticino -
Ferrovie Autolinee Regionali Ticinesi (FART) -
Ferrovie Federali Svizzere (FFS/TILO) -,
Ferrovie Luganesi (FLP) -
Trasporti Pubblici Luganesi (TPL) -
Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano, limitatamente alle autolinee (SNL) -
Autoservizi Pubblici Bellinzona (tramite AutoPostale)
Trasporti pubblici Città di Mendrisio (tramite Autolinea Mendrisiense)

Please also note that:
- The Navigation Company of Lake Lugano (SNL) offers a discount on its ferries to Arcobaleno pass holders
- The Navigation Company of Lake Maggiore (NLM) accepts monthly and annual passes on the Locarno-Magadino shuttle service
- The Locarno - Madonna del Sasso Funicular Railway (FLMS) accepts monthly and annual passes
- ASF Autolinee s.r.l. accepts Arcobaleno passes for the Lugano-Gandria route on the Lugano-Menaggio line.

If you click on the following link you can download the booklet on Arcobaleno tickets and passes:

Map of the ticket zones:

Following is a short film in Italian informing about the new Arcobaleno pass:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Let's meet at the Lido di Lugano

Today, May 1st, is when the Lido of Lugano officially inaugurates its season. It is a Lugano tradition to head down to the lake - no matter what the weather is like - to have the first ice cream of season!

So go ahead, dip your toes in the water and have a drink on their lovely terrasse while the kids have a run along the sandy beach.

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