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Guest: Switzerland and Artists
Switzerland Tourism's
Intellectual History:
Born in the Romantic Movement

Story and photos by John Blanchette

swans and ducks on Lake Lucerne
Inspiring views created some of the world's greatest masterpieces. Here is the waterfront in Lucerne.

espite Harry Lime’s assertion in Graham Greene’s “The Third Man” that Switzerland’s contribution to world culture is the cuckoo clock and chocolate, there is a long tradition of artistic achievement in this tiny country of six million.

In fact it is a country that so loves their artists that their profiles grace Swiss Francs rather than those of politicians.

Switzerland owes much of its tourism to the Romantic poets. In the 18th and 19th Century, Shelley, Keats, Byron, Wordsworth, Rousseau, the English painter J.M.W. Turner and others discovered the beauty of this land and promoted it.

In the past the impregnable mountains and snow covered peaks of the Alps were to be feared and avoided. The Romantic Movement in art and poetry changed all this forever with the “Cult of Landscape,” and Switzerland became a destination for the young English nobility taking the “Grand Tour.”

Much of the intellectual history of the modern world has its roots in Swiss soil. Many creative souls have produced some of their greatest masterpieces here and thrived on one of the world’s most beautiful and inspiring canvases. Switzerland became a destination for the world's greatest writers, poets and philosophers.

T.S. Eliot wrote “The Wasteland” while living in Lausanne. Herman Hesse lived in the hills above Lugano for over 25 year. Mary Shelley wrote "Frankenstein" while touring through Switzerland.

Other notable residents included James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Henry James, Voltaire, Dickens, Stravinsky, Vladimir Nabokov and Charlie Chaplin. Peter Ustinov lived in a hotel in Montreux and currently singers Tina Turner, Shania Twain, and Phil Collins call Switzerland home.

It could be argued that the greatest poem and novel of the 20th century were created in Switzerland, Eliot's "The Wasteland" and James Joyce's "Ulysses." Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, Dostoyevsky, Hugo and many other writers came to Switzerland for the creative stimulus. Even Lenin wrote his manifesto in Zurich before returning to Russia for the Revolution in 1917.

In Zurich, Kronenhalle restaurant was a famous haunt of expatriate writers and artists and the walls are full of work traded for meals. James Joyce regularly got the corner table and Giacometti, Chagall, Picasso and Miro are among the artists represented on the walls.

It is a country with over 400 museums. In 2005 the Paul Klee Center opened in Bern to celebrate the work of the country’s greatest home-grown artist.

The cities of Vevey, Montreux and Lavaux, which lie next to each other along the banks of Lake Geneva, have published “The Poet’s Ramble,” a guide to famous artists who have lived in the area. Over 40 of the world’s greatest thinkers, artists and writers were inspired by the beauty of this land. The book is available through Switzerland Tourism.

the town of Vevey on the north shore of Lake Geneva with flowers on the shoreline in the foreground
Town of Vevey's stunning beauty was muse to many of the world's greatest artists.

By the way, Harry Lime’s creator, Graham Green, lived and worked in Switzerland for many years and is buried in Vevey, the city where Swiss chocolate was created, and presumably, cuckoo clocks still keep the time.

Related Articles:
Switzerland Tour, Lucerne, Switzerland; Graubunden Switzerland; Zurich Dada and Business Class; Zurich Christmas; Bernina Express, Switzerland; Swiss rail trips; Eichhorn Schwyzerorgelfabrik and Musikhaus


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Let John know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for South of the Border Wine Country

Hello John – I enjoyed reading your article. I live in La Bufadora and have friends visiting next week, so you have given me some good tips on where to go in our wine country. We have always called Cetto – L.A. (like Los Angeles) Chet-o and it might have been worth mentioning that it is actually Italian in origin. Also, I don't know about when visiting the Valle, but when in town, it is better to have pesos than dollars. Right now the rate is approx. 11.70 for each dollar. Just sayin' and like I said good article!

--- Ella O'Bryan, La Bufadora, Baja, MX

Hi, We here at Country Living Magazine are working on a story about hotels around the US. We would like to feature the Paso Robles Inn. I have to find photos to go along with the story. I was wondering if you could please send me any images of the hotel. This can be anything from the rooms to the food! All images can be submitted low res and if selected I will ask for hi rez later. Also, if you know of any photographers that have photographed the hotel can you please give me the contact info? Thank you so much!

--- Will Morel, Assistant Photo Editor, Country Living Magazine, New York, NY

I am looking forward to my "silver" years, which in my case, will be the years (if fate is good to me) that I will finally be traveling. New Zealand is at the top of the list - I have always been drawn to it.

--- Sandra Mines, Seattle, WA

Yes, was a fun city. Bad wine though.

--- Bo, Portland, OR


Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Eugene Chaplin Introduces Chaplin's World Museum in Vevey, Switzerland

Charlie Chaplin and the Chaplin Museum
Lake Geneva/ Matterhorn Region and Switzerland Tourism recently blew into Los Angeles with the most esteemed guest, Eugene Chaplin. A man of remarkable lineage, he is the fifth child of Oona O'Neill and Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, the grandson of playwright Eugene O'Neill, the brother of Geraldine Chaplin and father of actress/model Kiera Chaplin.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: The Burren (Dispatch #14)

a dolmen at The Burren

The Palladian Traveler ventures back to the days of fearless Celtic warriors to search for some "stones to take you home" as he files his latest dispatch from the monochromatic moonscape known as The Burren.

Go There

Eric Anderson's travel blog/review
Provence: As Much a Mood, a Spirit as a Destination

Christmas card
"On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" goes the song. Robert Goulet sang it and Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis, too, and it surely comes to mind when you stand on a bluff in the Luberon of Provence and stare across at the little hill village of Gordes. The view is the best part; the village's interior itself is not dramatic and stands as a warning of what contemporary popularity can do to the simple homes of 12th century working people.

go there

Fyllis Hockman's travel blog/review
Exploring Venice: Lost and Found. And Special Finds. Repeat.

Venice street musicians
Walking home to our apartment in Venice, we share a wave through the window with the owner of Baba, our local osteria. Leaving for a day of sightseeing, a cup of my favorite pistachio gelato awaits me despite the early hour. At the Bar Dugole, we relax after a day of sightseeing and order the regular: vodka for my husband and Amaretto for me.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Buckingham Palace – It's THE Most Popular Tour in Great Britain (Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)

Buckingham Palace exit
Is it more momentous for a Brit to do the Buckingham Palace tour than say an American or indeed any other nationality? Yes, I know that's an odd question, but if you grow up – as I did – in London back in the 1950s, getting inside Buckingham Palace was the stuff of dreams. Hence my surprise at touring BP in 2005.

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Paradise on Earth: The Romance of Tahiti and Her Islands

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
The first thing you notice is the fragrance. The intoxicating perfume of the tiare flower announces to your senses that you are in a magical place, overflowing with tropical vegetation and soothing trade winds. It is the same fragrance that the English seamen on the HMS Bounty also first encountered; but they came, not for flowers, but for breadfruit, intended as a new food staple for their slaves in the West Indies.


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