Whether you come and work in Ticino or are here on a business trip, don’t be surprised to be taken out for a lavish 3-course lunch.
I was, soon after arriving from a previous job in London, where lunch breaks were at best taken in a decidedly dutiful manner.
The mid-day break here is something of an art form. Many companies are more than happy to let their employees disappear for over two hours to go and get properly fed by their wives, mothers or local chefs.
On the contrary, they’d be amazed if they did otherwise.
When I signed my work contract, just under two years ago, I asked my Human Resources department what kind of lunch break I was entitled to.
The answer was: “The terms of your contract allow you to self-manage your work schedule. Take as long a break as you like, but make it at least an hour”.
What was actually meant is “Don’t get into the habit of working over lunch.” I was impressed!
Tupperware salad at the desk is unheard of here, and, between 12pm and 2pm, the place empties completely.
So out with the soggy pre-packaged sandwiches and in with the more relaxed, serviced lunch experience, more than often, al fresco.
I decided to embrace the local custom and now spend most lunch breaks with a group of colleagues discussing politics, football and, well, work issues, over delicious home-made local specialities.
It’s amazing what a difference a well balance diet can make in terms of well-being, and how much more alert and productive one can be.
So, long lingering lunches benefit me, my colleagues and my employer. Who’d have thought it?
But we’re not the only ones who stand to gain from the arrangement. It hugely benefits the local economy.
Most small restaurants offer good-value lunch menus and get to be full at a time when they would normally struggle to cash-in half a dozen bills.
Moral of the story, when it comes to food the Italians - even the Swiss-Italians - know best!