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Photo essay: three reasons to visit Verzasca Valley, Switzerland

As if chocolate, the beautiful mountains and the amazing skiing weren’t enough already… nobody needs any particular reason to visit Switzerland, you just know it’s going to be great. But today I’d like to shine the light on a Swiss canton that is perhaps less known to travellers from outside of Europe – Ticino. And Verzasca Valley, in particular.

Ticino is Switerland’s southernmost canton and combines the best of Switzerland. Situated south of the alps, it borders Italy, and its official language is Italian. So you find everything there, from snow-capped mountains to deep alpine valleys and lakes with sup-tropical vegetation. If you get the chance to visit Ticino, make sure the Verzasca Valley is on your itinerary. And here’s why:

1. Sonogno

Sonogno, Verzasca Valley, Ticino, Switzerland

Sonogno, Verzasca Valley, Ticino, Switzerland

Sonogno is the last village in the Verzasca Valley. This is where the road meandering through Verzasca Valley ends. People are not allowed to enter by car, unless you are a resident. It’s one of my favourite places in all of Switzerland. Counting 89 inhabitants (as of 2009), the place is tranquil, calm and quiet. Really quiet.

Alleys in Sonogno, Verzasca Valley

Alleys in Sonogno, Verzasca Valley

There are a few little craft shops you can explore. Sonogno is perfect for spending an afternoon at least, walking around the little alleys, visiting the church, and most of all, stopping at a “grotto”, a rustic little restaurant. I stopped at Grotto Redorta when I visited a while ago:

Grotto in Sonogno, Verzasca Valley

Grotto in Sonogno, Verzasca Valley

Grotto in Sonogno, Verzasca Valley

Grotto in Sonogno, Verzasca Valley

They had a lovely outside seating area, typical of grotti in Ticino, with stone benches and tables. And let’s not forget the amazing food… salametti, bacon, ham, caprese, and a variety of cheeses from the area:

Grotto in Sonogno, Verzasca Valley

Grotto in Sonogno, Verzasca Valley

 

2. The one and only James Bond bungy

Verzasca Valley is home to the famous James Bond bungy. Remember the first scene in the movie Goldeneye? Where Pierce Brosnan’s stunt double jumps off a dam somewhere in Russia? Well, except that he was really in Switzerland, and that this was his view:

Verzasca Valley, Ticino

Verzasca Valley, Ticino

James Bond bungy, Verzasca Valley, Switzerland

James Bond bungy, Verzasca Valley, Switzerland

At 220 metres, this jump is not for the faint-hearted. Jumpers enjoy 7.5 secons of free fall, parallel to the massive Verzasca dam.

James Bond bungy, Verzasca Valley, Ticino

James Bond bungy, Verzasca Valley, Ticino

Tandem jumps are not available at this site, so you’ll have to muster up the courage to do the jump on your own. You can choose from a classic swan dive or a backwards jump if you have never jumped from the dam before. More experienced jumpers are allowed more acrobatic jumps. So if you’re lucky on the day, you might see some 007-style stunts!

3. Ponte dei Salti

Ponte dei Salti, Verzasca Valley, Ticino

Ponte dei Salti, Verzasca Valley, Ticino

Ponte dei Salti is often referred to as the Roman Bridge, although it only dates back to the 17th century and was then rebuilt in 1960. Nonetheless, this double-arched stone bridge is as beautiful as it is popular with visitors. The bridge is right outside the quaint little town of Lavertezzo.

Lavertezzo, Ticino

Lavertezzo, Ticino

Ponte dei Salti (“bridge of jumps”) is a very special spot and makes for a great picnic location. You can knock yourself out in terms of sunbathing, photography, and swimming in the Verzasca River. And if the jump from the Verzasca dam wasn’t your thing, why not try jumping from Ponte dei Salti?

 

Have you been to Ticino or Verzasca Valley? What were your favourite spots?

Christina

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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28 Comments

  • jamie - cloud people adventures commented on 3 July, 2011 Reply

    love the buildings! all that stonework looks amazing.
    looks like a good combination of ultimate relaxation and extreme adrenalin!

    • Christina commented on 3 July, 2011 Reply

      Thanks, Jamie. Ticino is great for architecture, whether you’re into farms, townhouses or castles! And you’ve summed it up nicely, it’s got everything from relaxation to extreme adrenaline!

  • Sophie commented on 3 July, 2011 Reply

    I adore Switzerland but have not made it to Ticino yet. Looks beautiful (not that I’m surprised :).

    • Christina commented on 3 July, 2011 Reply

      Ticino is small but offers so much diversity. You can sit by the lake under a palm tree and see the snow-capped mountains – it’s quite a mix.

  • jade commented on 3 July, 2011 Reply

    that meat platter looks reason enough to visit for me! :)

    • Christina commented on 3 July, 2011 Reply

      Haha, Jade, say no more. Your picture says it all!

  • Cathy Sweeney commented on 4 July, 2011 Reply

    Verzasca Valley looks exactly like the kind of place I’d like to visit — for all three reasons (although I’d just watch the bungy jumpers, not join them)! Nice pics, too.

    • Christina commented on 4 July, 2011 Reply

      Thanks, Cathy! Watching the bungy is quite exciting too. I haven’t actually done this bungy, a friend of mine did. I’m less enthusiastic about jumping parallel to a massive concrete wall – I prefer the unrestricted views of the Kawarau Gorge or perhaps the Nevis valley in New Zealand!

  • John Wilson commented on 4 July, 2011 Reply

    Good stuff Christina,
    Always liked Switzerland – maybe one day I’ll get back there.
    In the meantime, I’ll just have to settle for beautiful pictures and stories like you post.
    Cheers,
    John D. Wilson
    aka The Big Mozey

    • Christina commented on 4 July, 2011 Reply

      Thank you, John, and welcome to Jandal Road! I’ll certainly post a few more on Switzerland, so stay tuned :)

  • Mark Wiens commented on 5 July, 2011 Reply

    Great post Christina! I visited Switzerland with my parents when I was just a small kid, but I barely remember anything. I would love to return now and visit Ticino. Looks like a very beautiful place.

    • Christina commented on 5 July, 2011 Reply

      Thanks, Mark! Ticino is the most beautiful part of Switzerland, I think.

  • Idelish commented on 5 July, 2011 Reply

    Nice post! Love it when I learn about a new place to visit :) the bungy jump definitely looks scary. Dd you do the jump?

    • Christina commented on 5 July, 2011 Reply

      Thanks! I bungy jumped twice in New Zealand, but didn’t do this one. My friend did and she loved it!

  • Laurel commented on 5 July, 2011 Reply

    This looks so picturesque. I love that only locals cars allowed. Did you make the jump? It looks rather high.

    • Christina commented on 5 July, 2011 Reply

      These villages deep down in the valley are quite isolated, and have their special atmosphere. Everything’s slower, quieter. I didn’t do this bungy. Verzasca gets you into this zen spot where it takes an effort to get all hyped up about bungy. Glad my friend did it though, it was an experience watching it!

  • Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista commented on 5 July, 2011 Reply

    I have been to Lugano in Ticino and loved it! You had me sold on the Verzasca Valley with the very first picture! Spectacular. Then I saw the Roman bridge. Would love to spend more time in the Ticnio and the Verzasca Valley will be part of it!

    • Christina commented on 6 July, 2011 Reply

      Glad you like the pics, Debbie! Lugano is a beautiful town, with Parco Ciani and the lake and Monte San Salvatore… I hope you get to go there on your next trip!

  • robin commented on 6 July, 2011 Reply

    Beautiful – for me, the meat platter is more thrilling than the bungy!

    • Christina commented on 6 July, 2011 Reply

      Haha, Robin, they need not be mutually exclusive. The meat and cheese platter was very palatable. Recommended for AFTER the bungy.

  • Nomadic Samuel commented on 8 July, 2011 Reply

    What a lovely place to visit – great pics! It seems as though you could walk endlessly for hours around the village & surrounding areas.

    • Christina commented on 9 July, 2011 Reply

      Hi Sam! Thanks for your comment. And yes, it’s a valley worth exploring. There are quite a few villages worth visiting and the locals are super-friendly!

  • Faith commented on 20 July, 2011 Reply

    That little village is just too pretty. I love the brick work. Everything you’ve laid out sounds like a perfect balance of excitement and tranquility :)

  • Jenni Bennett commented on 31 July, 2011 Reply

    Fun post! I love that photo of Lavertezzo! Can’t wait to read more :)

  • vakta mondal commented on 23 January, 2014 Reply

    Fantastic blog. Great scenario at Verzasca Valley. Thanks Christina for discussing about the beauty of SWIZERLAND …………………………….

  • Kadri commented on 19 February, 2014 Reply

    I have been in Switzerland once but not in Sonogno. It looks so sweet, and the brick house- I can just fell in love this kind of houses, sounds like I should visit it one day.

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