Hand gestures and their meaning can be so varied that in some countries represent a parallel language, used along with vocal language. Why is hand-gesturing so important to some cultures? Why it is less important to others?
He is honking his car’s horn with frenzy. He is really mad at me.
Trying to decide whether I should be angry or amused, I look at him. He is a middle-aged Caucasian.
Then I look at his license plate. His car has a Zurich number, like mine.
I didn’t experience many of these encounters here in Switzerland. However, I experienced plenty of them in my native country, Italy. First clue.
I was going for I hike in a very good mood.
Now I’m sad.
What I’ve seen brought many memories back.
Twenty-three years ago. I’m still in school.
46 people get up on an autumn’s morning. They have different lives, different nationalities and speak different languages. Some are men, some are women, some are rich while others are looking for a better life. Some are leaving their home, some are returning home. All different lives with only one thing in common: they’re all going to die soon, and they don’t know.
I always wondered how to vote from abroad and how to register for that. Last week I had a my chance to find out.
Last Sunday and today are election days in Italy. Actually, we are talking about primary elections for one of the three major coalitions.
While I’m not a member nor a supporter of any of the parties involved in that particular coalition, for reasons I’m not going to explain here (patriotic reasons), I decided to take part to this “event”.
The guy who will be winner of this primary will be candidate for Prime Minister, which is the most powerful post.
Another important coalition was going to call a primary to choose its candidate, but now they seem having changed their mind (You think it’s funny? The right word is “tragicomic”. But what would you expect from people like that).
I’m Italian, but I live in Switzerland. Here is the story of how I could vote for primary elections from abroad.
Saint Gotthard Pass in Switzerland, together with Saint Gotthard railway tunnel and the road tunnel, represent a major European transit point connecting Northern and Southern Europe through the Saint Gotthard Massif, a mountain range in the Swiss Alps.
Saint Gotthard Pass
Saint Gotthard Pass in summer – Click on it
Saint Gotthard Pass is a relatively low altitude (2,100 m, or 6,900 ft) passage point in the Gotthard Massif, in the middle of the Swiss Alps. It has been used over the last hundreds of years as a crossing point for people and goods transportation. To the north lie the Swiss cities of Zurich and Bern, then the Rhine basin and Germany. To the south, the Ticino Valley with the Swiss Canton bearing the same name, followed by the valleys of Northern Italy.
Although the pass is entirely located on Swiss territory, it is part of both a geological and a linguistic continental divide.
The pass crosses the European continental watershed that separates the Mediterranean Sea basin from the North Sea Basin. This division also reflects on languages spoken by inhabitants of both sides: while both Swiss citizens, south inhabitants (Canton Ticino) speak Italian, while north ones speak German (Canton Uri).
This separation is found throughout all the Alps.
Nowadays Gotthard Pass is mainly a leisure summer destination where enjoying sight of mountains’ majesty and refreshment from heat. It is closed to traffic in winter. A few small lakes lie on pass plane.
Saint Gotthard Railway Tunnel
Saint Gotthard Railway Tunnel is a 15-kilometer (9 miles) tunnel built inside Saint Gotthard Massif at an elevation of 1,100 meters above sea level.
It was excavated in the 1870s and opened to rail traffic in 1882. Its construction claimed the lives of approximately 200 people, including the engineer leading construction, Louis Favre.
The tunnel took over traffic from the pass since its completion and has served as a major connecting passage between northern and southern Europe to this day. It is mainly crossed by passenger and freight trains that reach Italy from Switzerland and from Germany.
Railway and Motorway Approaching Saint Gotthard
A Glimpse On The Valley While Approaching Saint Gotthard
Following car traffic increase in the 1960s and 1970s, a road tunnel was constructed at approximately the same level of the old railway tunnel, and opened in 1980.
With its length of just over 16 km (10 mi), Gotthard road tunnel was the longest road tunnel in the world at its completion and it is now the third.
The tunnel features a heavy traffic load. Since there is only one lane for each direction and a safety distance is mandatory for vehicles, traffic lights are placed at both ends in order to dilute traffic inside the tunnel. This can result in massive traffic jams outside the tunnel, that can reach almost 20 km (12 mi) in length in summertime.
Traffic jam at north portal of the Saint Gotthard road tunnel, August 2012 – Click to enlarge
While Saint Gotthard Pass is no longer used for transportation, both Gotthard railway tunnels and road tunnel will see their traffic increasing in the following years, gaining importance for trans-Europe transportation.
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