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The tale of how Russia fell in love with Lugano

It may be that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but tourists – even the fairer sex – are no different. And imagine my surprise to discover that even the cold Muscovites are no exception. In fact, in my experience, this population aren’t as reluctant to smile as they may seem. Have a little patience and you will discover they are more like us than you had realised. Cheerful, festive and passionate about beautiful things, Russian people really are very friendly and affable.

But let’s start at the beginning. This adventure began when Lugano Tourism teamed up with Ticino Tourism to visit the city of the Kremlin in order to promote the beauty of Lugano and its splendid region. So my colleagues Sebastiano, Jasmin and I organised an event for the country’s most important media representatives and, as well as the classic press conference, we decided to make the most of a few of our strong points: food and wine and smiles all round. In collaboration with the Swiss Tourism office in Moscow, we transformed your average Wednesday evening into a special edition of Masterchef where journalists from the most prestigious newspapers and the most influential mass media went head to head over typical dishes from Ticino. A warm salad, mushroom risotto, meat roulade, cold cuts and dessert. A classic Grotto menu for them to create from scratch. And the prizes? Visits to the best hotels in Lugano of course! After an hour slaving over hot stoves, with the scent of fresh basil, melted butter and tomato sauce in the air, we sat down to eat between one merlot toast and another. The tasting was an interesting moment of interaction between the journalists, TV presenters, radio deejays and travel and cooking bloggers. And there was some tension in the air after we had all drank our coffees: it was time for the verdict. The winners by some way were the ‘San Salvatore’ Group. The evening, a unanimous success, came to an end among applause and excitement. Only five lucky winners will come to visit us here but everybody present was enchanted by the magic of our Lugano and our Ticino! And feeling quite content, I think it’s only appropriate for me to say “Spasibo!” too!


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