They are everywhere you look: beside precipitous mountain paths, under shady trees, in parks, and beside lakes and parking lots. Swiss benches are an open invitation—“Please have a seat”, “Take a load off”, “Enjoy the view”, “Have a picnic!”—it’s an invitation impossible for me to resist.
The benches were always there, but after a friend gave me a notebook illustrated with a red Swiss bench on every page, I began to take a closer look.
These sturdy seats come in industrial versions with tubular steel underpinnings, or slatted with wood—some painted, some not. A bench might be hand-painted and set out beside a front door, or hand-hewn from a big chunk of tree.
It may have a back for proper sitting or no back at all, to better serve as a table. A bench may be backed with concrete to make it last longer. Many benches are the Swiss red of my notebook, but as many are not.
On occasion I’ve had a camera in hand when I happened upon benches in Swiss cities or the countryside, by a lake, or fronting a jaw-dropping mountain vista.
The seasons of a Swiss bench
In winter, I’ve found benches hunkered down under a blanket of snow, patiently waiting for a thaw. In cherry blossom season, a bench has invited me to take a time out from a spring hike—just a short sit, before I have to get up and moving to get warm again. In summer, well, that’s when the Swiss bench comes into its own. There is no more welcome sight, beside a hiking trail halfway up or down a mountain, than a sturdy Swiss bench. Come autumn, a bench in the city is still a good spot to catch the last rays of sunshine before cold weather.
Any guesses where I found these?