As we went to press, the Euro 2012 had entered the semi-finals stage and the Italian national football team was harrying the German Mannschaft on the pitch. At that very moment in Brussels, Italian leaders were also pushing Merkel into a tight spot. Here in Switzerland, it seems, we are living in the midst of interesting times.
This Eurozone summit had to be improvised at Spain’s and Italy’s request on the night of June 28–29, in the midst of a dinner for 27 countries. At dawn, a compromise was extracted with forceps, with EU leaders agreeing to use the Eurozone’s planned bailout fund to directly support struggling banks, without adding to government debt.
Rocky Malhotra, head of the Indian company Super-Max, the world’s second largest manufacturer of disposable razorblades, strongly believes that innovation is key to his firm’s growth. In a recent interview he gave us, Malhotra illustrates his point by calling upon Swiss ingenuity to give his blades an edge on the competition.
Swiss innovative prowess comes in different colours and tastes, as well. Stephan Marti, progenitor and producer of a unique Swiss balsamic vinegar, shows in this month’s edition. He has added his own twist to the traditional processes involved in making the true Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale of Modena and neighbouring Reggio Emilia: Instead of using a reduction of pressed Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes as a base, he uses fully ripened Swiss-grown fruit. Adding to the Swissness of his produce, Marti ages his 30-litre barrels for five years at an altitude of 3000 metres, in the heart of a glacier near the Matterhorn in the Bernese Alps. Marti firmly believes that what he calls the “force of the mountain” and the particular alpine climate, are just as much flavour to traditional Balsamic as the old Italian attics mandated by European law.
Moving down from the mountains…. As an oasis of still charm to readers weary of the sweat and tears of volatile markets, this month’s edition also spotlights the efforts of Enzo Enea, of Enea Landscape, to restore classical harmony and beauty to gardens. A consultant for horticulturalists as varied as Prince Charles, Tina Turner and the Queen of Bahrain, Enea was kind enough to offer Swiss Style some tips on everything from terrace potting arrangements to designing certain aspects of public parks. Readers in favour of interior, rather than exterior beauty, may find Robert La Bua’s article on the Swiss Art market more interesting.
For those of you looking beyond Switzerland, La Bua also offers his readers a tour of nearby Innsbruck, Austria. More travel at another level is explored with Peter Hürzeler, of Ocean Independence, a man who knows all the “do’s and don’ts” of buying a yacht, as well as the particular philosophy that has allowed him to grow a small, landlocked firm into the world’s largest yacht brokerage.
All of these articles call into question the old Chinese truism that to live in interesting times is a curse. Even if we decide to pass on the haircuts, when Indian CEOs call upon Swiss innovation to give their firm’s products a cutting edge, Italian balsamico becomes the preserve of Alpine mountain air, landlocked Zurichers manage enormous yacht fleets and when the skills of gardening, a typically English pastime, are outsourced to the Swiss, what else can we do but to be grateful for the chance, as it were, to live in interesting times?
John François Béguin