If you don’t believe Portland and Maine are important in this world, here’s a story to change your mind.

A few years ago, on a ski trip to Davos, Switzerland, my husband and I were invited to the Swiss Italian-speaking Ticino area to visit friends.

Davos was enjoying a snowstorm day in the mountains, but our trip of two hours or so south found some sun and patches of blue sky. By the time we reached Canton Ticino, full sun, spring flowers and acres of newly sprouting vineyards greeted us.

Veering off the main highway, we traveled through one small town after another, resulting in even smaller roads. The most amazing sight in the Italian canton is to see the palm trees that make a border for the snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Reaching our destination, the tiny town of Gubiasco, our speed was careful and slow. The roads were not built for cars. Our companions mentioned we would only hear Italian spoken, but promised to translate.

At the abrupt end of a road, our destination reached, we left the car and climbed a long narrow path to a beautiful chalet, surrounded by flowers, and our hosts. After much handshaking, catch-up talk (Swiss-German, English and Italian) and an aperitif, it was time for lunch.

We returned to the steep path and the street below and headed for the restaurant.

As we walked the narrow road we had to step into doorways to let cars pass, the drivers and passengers waving and thanking us in Italian.

Arriving at some well-worn stone steps we crossed a large patio surrounded by vines just beginning to sprout in the fine early spring weather.

Entering the restaurant, we were greeted with a handsomely decorated room featuring an open fireplace and a hand shake from the very busy owner. While our friends ordered a bottle of local wine, we looked over the menu. They suggested we wait until the chef came before ordering. A moment after those words were spoken, he arrived with a marble top cart covered with all types of meat.

There was beef tenderloin, veal, lamb, rabbit and venison. (Customers choose whatever type, size and combination they wish and if that isn’t enough, a nearby tank holds fresh trout.) Our selections were made, then prepared in the open fire, plated and served.

After an exquisite meal, complemented by a creme caramel and cappuccino, we sat relaxing, chatting and feeling completely satiated when the owner joined us again.

Our friends, speaking Italian, introduced us, mentioning we were from Maine.

The owner immediately stopped speaking Italian and said in perfect English, “Maine?… Portland, Maine? … Yes! I was just there to order my lobsters. Everyone in Gubiasco comes to my outdoor patio in summer for my Maine lobster!”



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