Simplicity can be thought-provoking and uplifting especially if you are in a foreign country. Journey with me as I relive a trip to the small, quaint town of Sonogno in Southern Switzerland.
In 2007, my daughter, Sherri, and I traveled to Ticino, which is the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Yes, Italian-speaking, and, of course, we did venture into Italy a couple of times. Logical questions for those of you who know of my passion for Italy!
Sonogno lies about twenty-five miles north of Locarno, at the end of the paved road through the Valley Verzasca. Since no outside traffic is allowed into the town, our tour bus dropped us off at the edge of the village along a fertile green pasture. A chorus of cow bells filled the air along with an occasional moo as we walked along. The church and bell tower were nestled by mountains so high that parts of the town were heavily shaded.
Who are the people who live up here? Surprisingly, I found a few interesting facts on Wikipedia.
The number of residents in 2008 was 95, with an equal distribution of males and females; 7 were children. Ninety-five percent of the population are Swiss and the remainder are legal residents from other countries. The village has a dying language which is a mixture of Latin and Celtic although 93% speak Italian. The village population was at its highest in 1850 at 334 after which residents began leaving to seek better job opportunities in more urban areas, including overseas. The highest age bracket is in the 40 to 49 range. Surprisingly, two-thirds of the population have completed the non-mandatory secondary education or advanced or additional higher education. As of 2005, 46 of the residents were employed in some capacity of which 37% were women.
When you visit a place totally unlike anything you have ever seen, it’s almost a rebirth into a new world of sight and feeling. It feels like leaving the present and traveling back a century to a totally unfamiliar place with a few tiny shops, some gray stone cottages, a small hotel and a town oven. A town oven? Yes, used heavily in the middle ages, no doubt. It seems a simple place to live without many of the complexities of modern life. No doubt the rural conditions here create some dilemmas most of us are unaccustomed to. Regardless, there was an unmistakable sense of peace and tranquility in this quaint village…the kind that generates thoughts about what it would be like to live here and what really matters in life.