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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
Journey to the Bottom of the Globe: Exploring the White Continent of Antarctica

nguins on  shore as writer's cruise ship passes by, Antarctica
As a travel journalist I am constantly asked what are some of my favorite travel experiences. The list is endless. But there is one destination that seems to raise the most eyebrows. That destination is a cruise to Antarctica. Sadly, that cruise line I was on is no more, but today there is a plethora of cruise lines that offer similar packages. Here's a look back at my Antarctica cruise.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: Food, Fun and Falconry at Ashford Castle (Dispatch #18)

sunset at Galway Bay

The Palladian Traveler soars above the crowd with a gal named Lima, cruises across a lake dotted with hundreds of islands, and feasts like a king in a regal dining room.

Go There

Eric Anderson's travel blog/review
Lake Charles’ Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras

dressed-up for the Mardi Gras
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their children’s eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from last year’s Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already fed and are rubbing their stomachs.

go there

Fyllis Hockman's travel blog/review
Cedar Hill: Frederick Douglass' Home is as Imposing as the Man who Lived There

Cedar Hill, Washington DC
Having recently received a misguided shout-out from the president during Black History Month – Frederick Douglass has done an amazing job... – it seems a good time to revisit the cultural icon's legitimate place in history. And a visit to his home in Washington, DC – surely a place the current president might want to consider visiting himself – would be a good place to start.

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John Clayton's travel blog/review
Would You Believe She Can Carry 800 (Yes, 800!) People!

Emirates Airbus A-380
As she came around the corner we could not believe how big she was. Massive, and yet incredibly beautiful – almost elegant in fact. Her lines were so symmetrical she seemed to blend into a classic example of astonishing good looks. The other fact that amazed all of us was how quiet she was. We felt sure that with the obvious overwhelming power she evidenced, she'd be extra loud. It's a cliché, but she was as quiet as a church mouse – or "as quiet as dreaming trees."

go there

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's Gold Country

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

go there


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