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Ticino is Switzerland's Italian-speaking canton -- the southernmost (Credit: Handout)

Ticino is Switzerland's Italian-speaking canton -- the southernmost and least known to American visitors. Ticino's biggest city, Bellinzona, is home to three UNESCO-inscribed castles, including the Montebello.

Switzerland

Switzerland is home to four linguistic regions -- German, French, Italian and Romansh -- and plenty of sites influenced by the cultures of each.

A Rhaetian Railway train travels over the Landwasser
(Credit: Handout)

A Rhaetian Railway train travels over the Landwasser River on the Landwasser viaduct, outside Filisur.

The entrance to the a system of trails
(Credit: Handout)

The entrance to the a system of trails and caves called the Wildkirchli in Ebenalp. Once atop the mountain, an easy 30-minute hike leads you to three high-perched caves once home to cave bears, then Paleolithic Neanderthals, and finally hermits who lived in them until the mid-19th century.

The Alpine restaurant Aescher-Wildkirchli in the rock face
(Credit: Handout)

The Alpine restaurant Aescher-Wildkirchli in the rock face of the Ebenalp, Canton Appenzell-Innerrhoden.

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The Alpine resort of Gstaad, in Bern, one
(Credit: Getty Images)

The Alpine resort of Gstaad, in Bern, one of the 19 cantons that make up the Swiss-German speaking side of der Schweiz. (Sept. 23, 2012)

Appenzell's barn-studded rolling hills and proliferation of cows
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Appenzell's barn-studded rolling hills and proliferation of cows and dairy farms are reminiscent of Vermont. It remains an underrated destination favored by Swiss travelers and home to the 8,205-foot high Säntis Mountain, which offers views of six countries on clear days.

For nearly 300 years, the traditional Chaesteilet has
(Credit: Handout)

For nearly 300 years, the traditional Chaesteilet has been held on the Spycherberg in the Justis Valley. Over the summer the alpine farmers make cheese from the milk of more than 250 cows. After the ceremony the alpine dairy farmers dress in traditional costume, then lead the procession back down to the valley, with the cattle equally adorned.

Sunrise at Lake Stellisee in Zermatt , which
(Credit: Handout)

Sunrise at Lake Stellisee in Zermatt , which is near Valais, Switzerland.

Mountain bikers ride next to Lake Stellisee in
(Credit: Handout)

Mountain bikers ride next to Lake Stellisee in Zermatt, Switzerland. In the background is the Matterhorn mountain.

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A view from the vineyards of Mont d'Orge
(Credit: Handout)

A view from the vineyards of Mont d'Orge over the castle hills Tourbillon and Valere in Valais, Switzerland.

Swiss winegrower Jean Francois Riccard works in his
(Credit: AP)

Swiss winegrower Jean Francois Riccard works in his vineyard at Lutry in the picturesque wine-growing area of Lavaux in the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland. (June 28, 2007)

View towards the area of Lavaux in the
(Credit: Martin Ruetschi)

View towards the area of Lavaux in the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland. (Aug. 27, 2003)

The Alpina Gstaad is in the French-speaking part
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The Alpina Gstaad is in the French-speaking part of Switzerland (also called the Romandie), which encompasses more than 40 4,000-meter peaks, including the iconic Matterhorn.

The Alpina Gstaad opened in December 2012 and
(Credit: Handout)

The Alpina Gstaad opened in December 2012 and is especially beloved by the Swiss French. Rooms feature cozy Bernese Alps decor and 18th century painted farmhouse cupboards.

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Ticino is Switzerland's Italian-speaking canton -- the southernmost
(Credit: Handout)

Ticino is Switzerland's Italian-speaking canton -- the southernmost and least known to American visitors. Ticino's biggest city, Bellinzona, is home to three UNESCO-inscribed castles, including the Montebello.

The ancient Roman town of Ascona is home
(Credit: Handout)

The ancient Roman town of Ascona is home to the modern Hotel Eden Roc, which overlooks the waters of Lago Maggiore and has a full spa.

Hotel Eden Roc in Ascona overlooks the waters
(Credit: Handout)

Hotel Eden Roc in Ascona overlooks the waters of Lago Maggiore.

Graubünden, where Romansh is spoken, is Switzerland's largest
(Credit: Getty Images)

Graubünden, where Romansh is spoken, is Switzerland's largest and most illustrious canton, home to chic ski resort town of St. Moritz in the Swiss Alps.

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