Switzerland conjures up a fair swag of clichés: irresistible chocolates, kitsch clocks, yodelling Heidis, humourless bankers, international bureaucracies and an orderly, anally-retentive and rather bland national persona. But Harry Lime was wrong on more than one account when, in
Switzerland may be neutral but it is certainly not flavourless. The fusion of German, French and Italian ingredients has formed a robust national culture, and the country's Alpine landscapes have enough zing to reinvigorate the most jaded traveller. Goethe summed up Switzerland succinctly as a combination of 'the colossal and the well-ordered'. The untamed majesty of the Alps and the tidy, just-so precision of Swiss towns prevent Switzerland from ever being as one-dimensional as some pundits like to try and make it.