Autumn is the hiking period for my family and this year we did three amazing routes. The first one was the 5 Lakes Route, an alpine route on Mount Pizol in the canton of Saint Gallen, described already in a previous blogpost. The second one was the Verzasca valley route, in the canton of Ticino.
For our hiking, we chose a cute small valley in the geographical centre of Ticino, the Verzasca valley. It is a rural and largely untouched valley with steep inclines and numerous waterfalls. It is formed by the Verzasca river that flows over rock through the narrow valley and has many natural rock pools and places to bathe. The Verzasca valley extends over a length of 25 kilometers in north-south direction. The altitude of the valley floor is from 500m to 900m above sea level, so the hiking routes along the valley are not too demanding. The surrounding mountains have an average altitude of 2400m, so the routes that includes crossing over a pass are of moderate difficulty.
We decided to do the Verzasca valley route from north to south, starting at Sonogno, the northest village of the valley that is accesible by car, and finish at Lavertezzo, more than 17 km away, from where we could take the bus back to Sonogno. The duration of the route depends on the website you check and the person that wrote about it and can vary from 3 to 6 hours. In any case, we considered it a full-day activity, especially since we did it two days after the alpine hiking at Mount Pizol and we were not planning to hurry around.
We reached the Verzasca valley by car from Tenero, at Lake Maggiore. Via Valle Verzasca runs north, along the Verzasca river. At the southern outlet of the valley the river is dammed, forming the Lago di Vogorno. We stopped at the 220m high dam, which is considered to be one of the highest dams in Europe and is famous for the “GoldenEye” Bungee Jumping, the setting of the opening scene of the James Bond movie “Golden Eye”. It is absolutely scary! Then we continued further north, to Sonogno, where the street ends.
Sonogno is a cute alpine village, with traditional stone houses and narrow alleys. A bit northern of the village and only about 15 min away, there is an impressive waterfall. You can walk right next to the small pool that the waterfall creates or a bit higher on a hill that give the opportunity of beautiful pictures.
The following morning we woke up early and got ready for our excursion. It is a rather easy to moderate route, with not big ascents and desents. Nevertheless, it is advised to wear proper shoes, especially if the weather has been rainy. In addition, it is better to carry your supplies of water and snacks, as there is nowhere along the path to get supplies.
Our starting point, the village of Sonogno is at 919m above sea level and more or less the highest point of the route. The path starts at its south end past the athletic facilities, with a beautiful bridge over the amazingly coloured river.
From Sonogno, the path runs along the river from the right bank, till the village of Frasco, while the street is from the left one. At Frasco, we had to cross over the impressive Vecchio Ponte stradale and head to the left bank of the river, while the street continues from the right bank. This is quite common in all of the route: the path and the street are on opposite banks.
The path continues from Frasco to Brione firstly through meadows and traditional farm houses and then approaching again the riverside. At about the middle there is Gerra, where we saw a beautiful waterfall.
At Brione we stopped to have our lunch break. There were turquoise natural pools formed by the river around here and it was the perfect place to have our own outdoor bbq swiss style, with cervelas, the most typical Swiss sausages. We collected wood from all around the river banks and while I was cooking our sausages my husband decided to go for a swim. Well, it was a bit cold the water!
After a quite long break, we continues our hike towards Lavertezzo. As it was already past midday, the route became a bit less populated and it was nicer for us to pay a bit of attention to the river, that becomes more impressive from this point further. There are bigger boulders and formations where the turquoise and emerald colour of the river is more distinct.
About six hours after our start in Sonogno, we reached Lavertezzo, which is at 545 meters above sea level. It is a typical Ticinese picturesque village, with several stone buildings. Its main attraction, though is the 17th century double-arched bridge over the Versasca river, called Ponte dei Salti and known also as the Roman Bridge.
At exactly this point, the rock formations are enormous. Even if you don’t want to do the whole of the hike, it is worthy even just to drive up to this point and stop at the parking that is available exactly before the bridge. The river is much deeper here and it is a common place for bathing, although it is considered dangerous due to the currents.