Got it! No, it’s not a Swiss passport (that’ll have to wait another 10 years at least), even if the cover is almost identical: it’s a semi-humorous book of “Swiss Italian” language.
I think I talked about this already, but tl;dr, Italian from Italy and Italian from Ticino (the main Italian speaking canton), where I live, diverged a bit, for various reasons, and it leads to rather funny moments of incomprehension (and laughs, sometimes).
This is a book written by two Ticinese gentlemen (who are not primarily writers) and its name plays on the Italian word for Dictionary, turning it into a “Swiss Dictionary” portmanteau (Svizzionario).
On my town’s local facebook group a guy posts: “I’ll give away this semi-new weed-whacker for free to whoever comes to pick it up.”
I say I’m interested, if it’s still available… the answer is “Sure! Come pick it up from my garage whenever you want, it’s open! In so-and-so road, up the path with cypresses, where the road ends.”
Ok, to some of you USicans who live in rural areas it might
not sound so strange, but believe me, the notion of “don’t worry, pick
this thing from my garage at your leisure, I’m not ever closing it” is
super bizarre to my Italian-born mind. 😀
Addendum: some American friends remarked how, with their “Castle Doctrine”, they would never risk something like that because it’s a nice way to get shot. Happy to report that I got the weed-whacker and I didn’t get whacked (ha!): Switzerland is one of the countries with the most guns among private citizens… but it is also one of the safest countries in the world, with negligible numbers of gun-related deaths.
Bonus Swiss Oddity: the weed-whacker, in italian ‘decespugliatore’ (literally, bush-remover) actually has a name in Swiss-Italian (not present in Swiss-German or Romand aka Swiss-French): the “Zekiboy”.
I don’t know the etymology of the word, but nobody in Italy has ever heard of it… nor in the rest of Switzerland. Like several other swiss-italianisms, it is probably a corrupted form of some dialectal pronunciation of an early brand, or some strange nickname for the tool.
That’s it, 40 bucks for the whole year. There are no toll booths anywhere(1): you must buy a sticker called the Vignetta with the current year on it (they are sold at pretty much every gas stop drugstore) and put it on the inside of your windshield. That’s it: the police mostly checks at the end of January (when the previous year sticker expires) and especially near the border… but this is like most things in Switzerland; the rule is there, and they do check… and if they find you on the highway without your sticker they are not amused. It’s a 300 bucks fine, plus the 40 to buy the sticker. On the spot, or you can’t leave.
Anyway, it’s neat (and much cheaper than Italian highways), only… the friggin sticker is designed to stay stuck and break in tiny messy pieces if you try removing it, as an anti-tampering device: last year it took me a lot of time and swearing to tear it away little piece by little piece, covering my fingers in glue, and then cleaning up the mess of glue on the glass. The devilish thing.
So this year I learned a True Local™ trick: Swiss DIY stores sell a small sticker removal kit with a magic spray that does something to the glue, turning it into a jelly-like substance, plus a handy razor blade with a handle to pry it from the glass and a sponge to soak the excess spray. Best 10 francs spent in a while, worked like a charm.
(1) not entirely true: there’s some toll booths on tunnels, including the super pricy one going to the Italian enclave of Livigno from Canton Graubunden… but it’s a private tunnel, after all.
“Silent Electric Woodchipper Automatic feeding, no vibrations.”
…’cause just because you need to dispose of the body, it doesn’t mean you can be a nuisance to your neighbours!
The Swiss take avoiding noise and disturbing your neighbours very seriously: and if one calls the police on you because (say) you are using a noisy lawnmower on Sunday, rest assured they will come and fine you.
something an Italian notices right away when crossing the border with
the Confederation: the square (important!) red flag with the white cross
is everywhere. Especially private houses.
Now, this might not sound that odd
to my USian friends, ’cause Americans love to fly the old
red-white-and-blue but as noted many times it’s super rare in Italy.
Basically only official buildings have flags in Italy.
Here, instead, I received a booklet advertising a flag company,
where you can buy flags in 3 different grades of cloth of growing
quality, carabiners, poles, ropes, and even special flag-cleaning
products to wash them! And they don’t just make the red Swiss federal
flag, obviously, but one flag per Canton (which is to be expected)…
but also for each single Municipality, City and other local
institutions! Plus, whimsical Swiss flags featuring super-swiss things
like Cows, Edelweiss, and so on.
It’s still odd to me, but mostly harmless 🙂
if you zoom the pic you can see a bonus oddity: the text says
“Attenzione, bandiere in azione!” which, if you know Italian (or use
Google Translate) seems to say “Warning! Flags in action!”… which is
not what it means. This is one of many “Swistalian” bits of language:
“Azione” (action) actually means “on sale” ^___^
Something that’s probably not that well known outside Switzerland is how much the Swiss just love Carnevale (we’re talking Brazil or Venice levels of passion): in Ticino where I live, not only a couple of the bigger cities have officially sanctioned Carnival celebrations with decades of tradition (and official nicknames, like Bellinzona’s Rabadan), but many (most?) of the smaller villages (comuni) have their own.
Costumes, parades, revelry, eating and drinking in the streets… and confetti. Obviously: can’t have Carnevale without confetti (coriandoli, for my Italian speaking friends), right?
But! Something the Swiss are famous for is, instead, how precise and detail oriented and organized they are.
Well… let me show you how they sell Confetti…
…neatly packed in separate colours!
Now if you want to buy multiples and then mix them in a disorganized mess, suit yourself, but it’s out of our hands!
I’ve been living in Switzerland for three years now, and as an Italian immigrant I still find stuff that catches me off-guard. The fact I’m living in Ticino means there isn’t an immediate/constant feeling of being in a foreign country (we share the language… well, mostly).
But here and there the “swissness” (swissitude?) shows, and catches me by surprise, or makes me smile, or leaves me with this odd sensation of “strangeness”.
These posts started as a Collection on Google Plus, but since the platform is sadly closing soon, I’m moving them here. I will repost some here, to save them from oblivion, and add new ones.
It’s an amused and generally good natured (even when I make fun of the Swiss) look at my adoptive country, as seen by someone coming from outside.