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Gotthard: Two days to go – what language do you speak?

I don’t understand a word of the conversation at the canteen bar. Is it a Slavic language, Austrian slang or a north Italian dialect?

In Faido it’s the same story, only the other way around. This quiet corner of the Leventina area has transformed itself from emigration village to immigration centre for hundreds of foreign workers.

There’s room for 500 people in the warren of white containers which border the cantonal road. People on the construction site are proud of the “largest hotel in Ticino”. And it’s the most multi-ethnic, I might add. There are mostly Italians, Austrians and Germans here, but also Spanish, French and people from the Balkans. An Australian has even turned up from somewhere.

Many make use of their spare time by discovering the region by bike or on foot. Others get tremendously bored. The days are easier in the tunnel because time passes there more quickly.

There’s sometimes unfriendly graffiti in the toilets, but that can be misleading. People manage to live together peacefully outside the tunnel. There’s no room for nationalism or discrimination on the construction site – because if you step out of line, you’re out and on your way home.

Luigi Jorio, Faido, October 13, 2010

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SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR