Taking leave of cherished traditions


Gnarled peasants driving their herds home from the
Alpine meadows in the evening in order to processes the
milk, in copper kettles, into tasty cheese in the morning
— the Swiss tourism industry is fond of using idyllic
pictures of this kind in its advertising work. In reality,
traditional mountain farming at the foot of an awesome
Alpine peak is already largely a thing of the past. In the
higher areas of the Tessine what was once pastures and
meadows is now overgrown with brush and thickets.
Indeed, animals that had earlier been exterminated are
now returning to many Alpine regions, including the
wolf, the lynx, and even the bear, because they no longer
need fear being disturbed by man.


There are two demographic tendencies that may be
regarded as typical for Switzerland in recent years. On
the one hand, the Alpine valleys are growing increasingly
empty, and the middle of the country is becoming its
periphery. On the other hand, the urban agglomerations,
the commuter belts surrounding the cities, are growing
further and further together to form one large urban region
in which the boundaries between town and country
are increasingly blurred.




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