Maria Caputo Mazzarella, a journalist and actress, has spent the past 13 years commuting between her home in Italy and her job in Ticino. She says the Swiss canton is not very different to northern Italy except that the Ticinese are better organised and less imaginative than their Italian cousins!This content was published on March 15, 2001 - 07:40
"I don't mind being described as a 'cross-border commuter'. All it means to me is that I pass through the Italian-Swiss customs post every morning and every evening - backwards and forwards, every day, mile after mile, often in a queue. But that's the way it is for everybody who goes to work, not just cross-border commuters like me.
People say that, physically, I resemble the Italian journalist, Lilly Gruber, but I think she looks like me. Maybe what we have in common is our determination, as well as the job we do: I'm a journalist - I run the local radio station in Mendrisio.
The years I've worked in Ticino have given me a wealth of experience. I've gained friends, hobbies and shared many a pizza with Italians and Ticinese who perform for my theatre company - 'I Girondini'.
My theatre is great fun - almost like work - except I'm not paid for doing it. In other words, my involvement with Ticino doesn't end when I leave my work.
Professionally speaking, I've found greater organisation and discipline here. But I don't think there's a great difference between Ticino and the Como region, where I was born and now live.
Thanks to my job, I observe Ticino on a daily basis and from every point of view. If I could change something, I'd probably start by paying myself a higher salary. I suppose a native Swiss doing my job would be paid more, but I think that's true for all cross-border commuters.
To be honest, I don't feel I'm underpaid. Italians earn more working in Ticino than they would in Italy, which is one reason why Swiss firms employ them. It's also true that cross-border commuters accept jobs that native Ticinese are not prepared to do. But isn't that always the way?
Other things I would change about Ticino? I like to see the people show a bit more imagination. The ideal would be a halfway house between Italian creativity and Ticinese discipline.
What I really love about the canton is its natural beauty, its tourist appeal, the pure air, and the landscape. A cliché perhaps, but none the less agreeable for that.
I would like to think that when my - hopefully - long career in Ticino comes to an end, that the 'cross-border journalist' Maria Caputo Mazzarella will be remembered for her dedication to Ticino, which she treated honestly, and with a good heart. The heart knows no borders or boundaries."
Maria Caputo Mazzarella
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