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 Switzerland’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 sub-tropical vegetation. If you get the chance to visit Ticino, make sure the Verzasca Valley is on your itinerary. And here’s why:
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.
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:
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:
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:
At 220 metres, this jump is not for the faint-hearted. Jumpers enjoy 7.5 seconds of free fall, parallel to the massive Verzasca dam.
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 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.
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?