As a citizen of a bilingual country (Finland), I’ve gotten somewhat used to the idea of several official languages in one governing area. Still, the strength of the Swiss multilingualism came as a surprise to me.
The official languages – German, French, and Italian – all share equal status, and are very much present in the day to day life. My first realisation of this actually came when I decided to visit Luzern, or Lucerne.
As I told someone I was on my way to Luzern, someone with a french accent would correct me and say you must mean Lucerne, while using the name Lucerne would quite certainly garner a staunch German to tell me the town is called Luzern. Luckily I’m quite used to never being right, so this didn’t faze me.
Luzern / Lucerne
I’m still not quite sure which one is the “more” official name. Maybe it really is both simultaneously, equally. Regardless of the tricky name, this Swiss town is very beautiful. Each chocolaterie-lined street seems like a postcard-worthy view. The buildings are like gingerbread houses and the cobblestone allies like from another world. On top of a hill a lavish castle stands out amid lush greenery.
A summer rain surprised me just as I was strolling along the Museggmauer, an old wall circling around the city center. The wall and its nine towers have some wonderful views of the town and Lake Lucerne…
Or is it Lake Luzern?