Ticino is the Italian speaking canton at the very south of Switzerland. It is definitely the sunniest and the warmest region, not only in terms of weather but also atmosphere. La Dolce Vita style and Italian hospitality are my most favorite features of Ticino. However it is also not so close to Zurich so it requires at least an overnight stay. This is not that bad though, as there is a lot to do and to see there! Let me then take you on a weekend trip through the region of Locarno, I will show you really amazing places and a ready plan how to spend there wonderful 2 days.
First day is entirely spend in Valle Verzasca, trust me this place is beyond beautiful. North from Locarno there is this charming valley, with the rocky river, plenty of waterfalls and lovely villages. Sounds good, no?
The trip starts at the Verzasca Dam just at the entrance to the valley. This is a Golden Eye Dam, do you know James Bond movie where he jumped from the dam? This is this place! You can also fell like James Bond and make bungee jumping there, only 220 m down, only for the very braves ones. Other way just walk through the dam and enjoy lovely views on both sides.
In normal travelling the next stop would be middle of the valley (famous Lavertezzo), but I recommend to reverse a bit and go firstly to the end. Then the lunch time can be spent next to the amazing La Froda waterfall and you can skip the highest peak crowd time in the middle of the valley.
La Froda waterfall is around 15 minutes walk from the Sonogno village – at the very end of road. The village itself is small but very charming, with this old typical stone houses. Just after that you enter to the pure nature going easy way next to the river until you see amazing waterfall. 70 m high Cascata della Froda can be admired from the bottom but also from the small hill just next to it. On the way back we had a nice lunch in the restaurant with the view – Grotto Efra. More about food in the region will be in the last chapter.
After Sonogno we drove back through the beautiful valley and we stopped in several places for making pictures and admiring the views. On the way back there is very nice waterfall just next to the road (Cascata Riale Efra) and also there is a car bridge on the river, we stopped there and went down under the bridge to fly the drone. The river and valley are extremely beautiful almost at every point, so if you would like to have pictures without people or just rest in the quite environment stop somewhere far from the main villages.
If you would like to see the most famous place in the valley, charming village and lovely stone bridge, Lavertezzo is the place. The river there is also very special, there are not really round rocks like everywhere else, but at the bottom of the river and around there are stones which are carved by the flow of water.
The river is very clean and during a hot day you can easily swim there, the water is quite cold as it is mountain river, but I am sure this is anyhow super fun. Otherwise just sit on the stone and admire beautiful views around. If you wish to hike there are plenty of routes along the river and around.
From the organizational thing, we visited the valley by car and this is very convenient. There are parking spots easy available everywhere and you can buy one parking ticket for the full day for the full valley (around 10 chf). Other way there is also bus which drives in the valley and you can do hop-on / hop-off style.
Locarno is a small city just next to the beautiful lake Lago Maggiore. This, the warmest city in the whole Switzerland, would be the perfect place to stay for a night during your weekend trip. There are many nice hotels to choose from and of course the Lake! Do not miss the old town and Piazza Grande and later stroll next to the lake. The atmosphere in the city is very Italian, people are friendly and smiling all the time.
Valle Maggia and Valle Bavona
Next day you can visit another beautiful valley. This place is less touristy and with a bit less of infrastructure than Valle Verzasca, but for sure it is worth visiting. Start your journey at the lovely village Maggia with a nice waterfall (this one we saw only from the far, but you can easily reach it withing 20 minutes walk from the village).
Going further do not miss the stop in the Bignasco. There is also a stone bridge there with a great view on the old houses and on the river. And surprise! There is also waterfall there – Cascata Grande di Bignasco 🙂 I think this one was one of the best to swim there. Can you imagine swimming under the waterfall?
After Bignasco driving to the left you will enter Valle Bavona. Do you know that this valley is one of the only places in Switzerland (and I guess in Europe in general) that is not connected to the electricity grid? Villages there either produce the electricity for themselves with tiny water power plants or solar energy either sometimes they do not have electricity at all… The cables which you can see sometimes in the valley are the telephone ones.
First stop in the valley would be Fontana – another stone bridge and another waterfall – Cascata di Cranzünasc.
But the hidden gem is just coming! Be prepared as this place will overwhelm you with its beauty. Cascata di Foroglio is I think the highest waterfall in the region, with around 100 m high the water falls down on the dark rocks what makes it even more spectacular. Moreover next to the waterfall there is I think also the nicest village with stone houses decorated with plenty of flours. This place is a highlight and easily I could stay there the whole day 🙂
After Valle Bavona we went to the valley to the right from Bignasco. This one was also very nice and we had a great early dinner at the restaurant Grotto Pozzasc.
Last stop on our weekend journey was Ascona. We just did a relaxing walk on the promenade next to the Lago Maggiore. This place felt like holidays and has really summer vibe with the palms, crystal blue water and green hills around.
What to eat?
Generally traditional restaurants in the regions are not called Ristorante, they are called Grotto. The restaurants are of course in a stone house, but also all the tables outside and inside are made with the stone, this makes a special experience. In a hot day the places like grotto give you a bit of shadow and refreshments usually with the lovely view on the river or waterfall. Menus are usually not very wide, but traditional and home made tasty dishes. Cuisine in Ticino is kind of mountain style but with a lot of Italian influence, so the food is very comforting, simple but heart warming. You should definitely try polenta, it was very good and you can choose your favorite sides to it: starting with cold cheese like Gorgonzola or alpine cheese, through vegetables, cold cuts of meat ending with the braised beef or osso bucco (braised veal with bone in the tomato-red wine sauce). The typical produce there are the sausages and dry meats and Farina Bona – roasted corn flour. Do not forget also wine – Merlot red or Merlot white directly from one of the local vineyards.
More information about the region, hikes, restaurants etc. you can find here: click.
Do you feel convinced about going to Ticino? Or maybe you have already been there and you have your own favorite spots? Let me know in the comments 🙂
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