photodiary - point, click, d.s. al fine

#32 Chiasso

Chiasso is a Bordertown at the southern tip of Switzerland, only 50km from Milan, and somehow a world of its own. It’s time in the sun has passed: with extensive railway yards covering something like half of the town’s area, now mostly neglected, it used to be a vital commercial hub. It was also a stopover for travellers on the major north-south European highway, back in the days when travel was more languid. Abutting directly onto Como in Italy, in WW2 it must have been a fascinating if very dark place. In more recent years, the town center has become desertified as all but a few major retailers have pulled out. Hotels are closed. Shop fronts are empty or boarded up. Chiasso these days is synonymous with its migrant “welcome center” (basically a jail) and various failed projects. It’s a place I’ve passed through a million times, on the highway, but very rarely visited. 

Last week I needed to drive to the center and had an hour or so on my hands, so I went on a half-hearted photo walk.  I found more than I expected, and discovered a Chiasso I really didn’t know, which hints at a vibrant identity and a multicultural-driven regeneration blending with glimpses of history quite distinct from any other town in Ticino. 

—boring gear details: all photos Ricoh GRIIIx.

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