Leaving Geneva, I took another detour from the Grand Tour route to the tiny village of Broc for a pit stop at the Cailler-Nestlé chocolate factory museum (currently only the store and café is open). Chocolate-maker Daniel Peter and his neighbor Henri Nestlé, a condensed-milk and baby-food manufacturer, invented milk chocolate nearby in 1875. Determined to experience everything, I overdid it, sampling every variety—dark, white, nut-filled, and milk chocolate—several times.
In the morning, groggy from my food coma, I cruised through undulating, snowcap-framed farm country in mountain valleys painted with greens, whites, reds, and yellows so vivid that they evoked computer animation, and I entered German-speaking cantons. No stranger to lengthy Alpine tunnels, I now experienced something new: numerous short passageways earth-wormed straight through 100-foot-tall grassy hills—sometimes so close to farms on the surface that I could see the color of a farmer’s beret as he tended his cows.
At that moment, I understood why Swiss tunnels, bridges, and switchbacks had been designed so creatively and were so ubiquitous. They had to be; Switzerland had to master them to meld its mountain-and-valley isolated cantons—now 26 of them—into a nation.