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7 Foods You Must Try In Ticino

Last Updated on September 21, 2023 by Darla Uhl

Switzerland has a lot of regional or local food, which reflects its great cultural diversity. French, German, and northern Italian cuisine have all influenced Swiss food. 

Swiss Ticino, the country’s southernmost Italian-speaking canton, is a mecca for food. Located on the border of Italy and the Swiss cantons of Uri, Graubünden, and Valais, it has a cuisine that has all these influences as well.

Some of the most popular dishes include Luganighe (a type of sausage), Minestrone, and Polenta. In this article, we will explore some of the best foods to try while in Ticino.

These are the best things to eat (and drink) while in Ticino:

1. Polenta

Image of Polenta with tomatoes by vinaygupta460 from Pixabay

You might think pizza and pasta are what the locals in Ticino typically eat. However, in Ticino, the main dish is polenta. Polenta is a cornmeal-based dish that is extremely popular in Ticino. As early as the early 17th century, corn was introduced to the southern canton of Ticino, changing the monotonous dishes. The most common food in Ticino has been chestnuts, polenta, and potatoes for centuries.

Polenta can be made into various dishes, including porridge, soup, or casserole. It can be cooked with butter and served with cheese or sauce on top. Polenta is a nutritious and filling dish that can be made in various ways to fit any taste.

This is the best dish for people who like light but fully nutritious food. If you are in Ticino, you should try this, and you will love its taste.

It is also inexpensive, making it a popular choice for budget-minded diners. Whether you are looking for a new dish to add to your repertoire or want something comforting and tasty, polenta is worth trying.


2. Ticinese Minestrone Soup (Minestrone alla Ticinese)

Image of Minestrone Soup from wikimedia

Minestrone hearty soup is perfect for a cold winter day. It’s made with fresh vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, leek, celery, as well as soaked beans. It’s sure to fill you up.

The best thing about minestrone is that it’s so versatile. You can use any vegetables you have on hand and add whatever beans you like. It’s a great way to use up leftovers, and it’s always delicious. You will simply boil the beans for 30 minutes, add the vegetables to the stock soup, and simmer for approximately 20 minutes.

If you’re looking for a hearty and warming soup, give minestrone a try. It’s sure to become a family favorite.

Another popular soup in Ticino is Busecca soup. Unlike Minestrone, Busecca is tomato-based and has cheese added in.


3. Merlot Wine

Image of Merlot Wine from openfoodfacts.org

The fact that Switzerland produces wine sometimes surprises visitors.  Merlot is made in Ticino, especially in the Mendrisiotto and Basso Ceresio regions. With the warm, sunny climate in Ticino influenced by the Mediterranean Sea, wine-growing is not at all surprising.

For people who like Swiss-Italian food from the mountains, Merlot is a good choice. You can pair it with the local cuisine. 90% of the vineyards in the region plant Merlot. Originating from Bordeaux, now it’s made in Ticino. 

In Ticino, the typical dining experience is spent in a Grotto with a plate of Polenta (cornmeal dish) and a glass of Merlot. Merlot also goes well with meat, pasta, pizza, Asian cuisine, cheese, and soups.


4. Luganighe Sausage

Image of Luganighe from openfoodfacts.org

The Luganighe is a traditional sausage made in Ticino. It is made with pork and either grilled or cooked for around 10 to 15 minutes. A Luganighe sausage typically has garlic, salt, pepper, wine, and some cinnamon and nutmeg mixed in.

Luganighe is sold raw and must be cooked before eating. It is often served with Polenta or Risotto and some vegetables. 


5. Brasato

Image of Brasato by Arnold Gatilao from flickr

Brasato is a popular dish in Ticino made of meat braised in wine and tomatoes. It is a popular dish in Ticino and Northern Italy and can be made with various meats, including pork, veal, and lamb. The dish is usually served over risotto or polenta.

Brasato is believed to have originated in the Veneto region of Italy and may have been based on a similar dish called battuto. The dish is made with wine and tomatoes, ingredients that are plentiful in the region.

Brasato is a hearty dish that is perfect for winter. It is easy to prepare and can be made with various meats. The dish will please your taste buds and is sure to become a favorite while you visit Ticino.


6. Risotto

Image of Risotto by Jeferson Urias Urias from Pixabay

Risotto is a classic Italian rice dish made with Arborio or Vialone rice, Parmesan cheese, and butter. It is also quite popular in Ticino. Risotto ticinese, the dish typically made in Ticino, is cooked with butter, onion, white Merlot wine, saltwater, butter, stock, and parmesan cheese. Sometimes mushrooms and/or dried porcini will be included.

The rice is cooked in broth until it is soft and creamy, making it the perfect comfort food. Risotto can be made with many different kinds of meats and vegetables, so it is a versatile dish tailored to your taste.

For rice lovers, this dish is a perfect choice. Sometimes, it is served with the traditional pork sausages Luganighe.


7. Gelato

Image of Gelato by KIM HOJIN from Pixabay


Gelato is an ice cream that originated in Italy and is quite popular in Ticino.

Gelato is a type of ice cream made with milk, cream, sugar, and eggs. It is typically denser and richer than American-style ice cream. Gelato can be flavored with various ingredients, including nuts, chocolate, fruits, and spices.

Gelato is often served in small portions and is sometimes eaten with spoons or an ice cream cone. It can also be used in desserts and cocktails.


Final Words: Foods You Must Try In Ticino

You can definitely tell that Italy has a big influence on Ticino cuisine: risotto, polenta, homemade pasta, and soups are a huge part of the menu. Even so, Ticino has its own unique atmosphere and cuisine.

Ticino’s grottos are the perfect place to eat tasty local food. Grottos are cellars or outdoor restaurants with stone benches and tables and a family atmosphere. Ticino has a lot of these caves and sunny terraces where you can eat local food under ancient trees. These cave-shaped restaurants all over Ticino serve local food in a traditional style. On the tables, you’ll find traditional dishes such as sausage, risotto, polenta, and Ticino Merlot.

Besides the typical Ticino cuisine available, there’s a fabulous atmosphere here you won’t find elsewhere in Switzerland. We recommend making a reservation for these rustic spots since they fill up fast, especially if they’re popular. 

Those who really love polenta can get good cornmeal at some of the larger grocery stores around Switzerland and in Ticino.

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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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