After we visited the island of Brissago which has been on Karsten’s bucket list for a while, we went to the Valle Verzasca on Sunday which, for a change, has been an item on my list for some time now (I know, it is probably the most visited valley in Ticino, but hey, there’s a reason for that, isn’t there?).
As the little one still can’t be convinced to sleep longer than 7am even if she had been walking and exploring the whole day, we started quite early and arrived in Lavertezzo at around 10am. The drive up the valley is stunningly beautiful – high mountains on both sides, picturesque stone cottages and churches in every village and a beautiful river. At the entrance of the valley (or the end, depending on the way you look) the river is held back by a gigantic embankment dam. And when I say gigantic I mean gigantic. Funnily enough, without knowing anything about this dam, my first thoughts were “Wow!” and “Isn’t there a James Bond movie showing such a gigantic dam?”. Turns out yes there is: the dam in the Valle Verzasca can be seen in the intro of Golden Eye. The scene doesn’t make any sense, really, but it gives you an impression about the bungee jump they offer there….something that makes my hair stood on end.
The further you drive up the valley, the more romantic and wild the river looks. Lavertezzo itself is a small village about halfway up the valley – and probably the most visited spot due to the Ponti dei Salti, also referred to as the Roman Bridge. Which it isn’t…no idea who came up with it, but it was built in the 17th century and restored in the 20th century. However, one must admit that this bridge is absolutely beautiful. The two arches are perfectly balanced (they better be) and the whole bridge looks incredibly fragile and elegant. To fragile and elegant to be made for all the tourist that trample over it. We were lucky to arrive there early enough so I was even able to make a picture without people. But only half an hour later, there was an endless strain of people and the rocks along the river (beautiful rocks as well – smooth and shaped by thousands of snowmelts) were covered with people too. We left without feeling sorry as soon as the first people started to jump of the bridge…
Brione, the next village, was already much less frequented and we had a nice picnic along the momentarily dried up riverside (only accompanied by a slight moment of panic when the little one fell off our picnic rock). Afterwards we put her in the carrier and did some hiking – slightly uncoordinated as we didn’t have a map and therefore weren’t sure which direction would offer the best walking paths with a toddler. Gee, we really have to work on that! Already during our bike tour around Schaffhausen I regretted the lack of a map, and here we regretted it even more. So we ended up walking a little bit in both directions and then coming back to Brione. Which was fine and both walks were scenic, yet it didn’t leave us as satisfied as a proper hike would have (the feeling of satisfaction was then achieved by a cold coke and a big ice cream). So, all in all a very scenic day and definitely worth coming back the next time to explore the higher parts of the valley!
Mental note for the next trip: Buy a map! Leave as soon as people start jumping! And always give in your temptation for ice cream!
Alternative note: Ask your neighbours who have been in this valley several times and did quite some hiking there whether they have a map 😉 or go to map.wanderland.ch and print one yourself… which is what we do most of the time as the topographic maps are too expensive to scribble upon and tend to fall apart after heavy rain/sweating 😉
Wonderful pictures you’ve shot there! Once more I am amazed how keen your eye is on finding the right spot and angle for a photograph. Both the pictures here and in your entry about Brissago range among the most beautiful I know (and have shot myself).
A short correction, though, the cause of which has caused us a lot of brain activity: It’s “Val Verzasca” and “Valle Maggia” because the Verzasca has only one main valley while the Maggia comes from two major valleys. At least that’s what we’ve come up with 🙂
Now you flatter me – thanks for the compliments!! I must say that taking pictures has been a real pleasure this time again. Normally, I am not relaxed enough to concentrate on pictures while I am going for a walk with the little one – she is far too fast by now and you always have to keep an eye on her. But Karsten and her are a really good team, so I had the freedom to stay behind and photograph!
But I am confused with Valle and Val. There are several (Swiss) tourism website which write Valle, and so does Wikipedia (not that this means anything)….how did you find out it was Val?
I also have to mention that some of the pictures from the Brissago entry were actually shot by Karsten!!
I have to admit I always refer to the topographical map which makes the distinction mentionned above – which is obvious if you look at the map, the Valle Maggia are subdivided in Cevio and Bignasco thus being a merged valley from three equally large valleys while the Val Verzasca has two minor side valleys but a clear main axis. However I can still understand if Valle Verzasca is used… and, not to forget, there may always be some influence from the local dialects that may kick in 🙂
I have to look at the Wikipedia site though to see whether I need to revise my knowledge… No idea about the tourism sites. My favorite Ticino site, http://www.verzascarustici.ch, goes with your interpretation as well.