Verzasca Valley and River Pictures

 

The free pictures taken above and under water tell the story: this idyllic river is attractive to those who want to scuba dive and those who just want to paddle or sunbathe on the stony beach.

The Verzasca Valley (Valle Verzasca) is in the Ticino – the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. The bottom of the valley is full of charming chestnut forests, with the picturesque mountain village of Corippo above. Corripo has a claim to being the smallest village in Switzerland: even though the official population is only 14 (December 2016), it has a Mayor and town council of three, as well as a church and restaurant. The Verzasca river flows through the valley passing Lavertezzo with its famous double-arched bridge. Here the elegant arches rest their toes daintily on a rock in the middle of the river, as if stepping lightly across. It is not surprising that the whole of Lavertezzo is designated a Swiss Heritage Site. The other villages in the valley are Mergoscia, Vogorno, Brione, Gerra, Frasco and Sonogno.

The Verzasca River feeds its clear turquoise coloured water into Lake Maggiore, having risen thirty kilometres away at Pizzo Barone. Over millions of years, the river has carved its way through the rock, leaving it smooth and polished. Recognising the potential power of this short river, a dam was constructed in the 1960s two kilometres above Lake Maggiore to feed the Verzasca Hydroelectric Power Station. The man-made lake behind the dam is the Lago di Vogorno. Those of an adventurous nature can bungee jump from the top of the dam in imitation of James Bond (or at least of his stunt man) in ‘Goldeneye’; the more timid of us can hike on one of the many marvellous trails in this stunning river valley.

As you can see in the pictures, the water is crystal clear, its depth never more than 10 metres and although a temperature of 7 – 10 C° is normal, it’s popular for scuba diving. Of course there is a current and conditions can be dangerous, so it’s best to go with someone who knows the area. There are many different dive sites and conditions are usually best from late spring to early autumn. The Hotel Pizzo Vogorno is centrally located and caters for divers.

Accommodation in the Verzasca Valley
Due to the narrowness of the valley, very little tourist infrastructure has been developed, and the area is considered one of the most remote and wildest in this part of Switzerland. You won’t find many hotels here, but what you will find are holiday homes and privately owned apartments to rent, and ‘rusticos’ – traditional stone-built rustic houses several hundred years old. I did find one B+B: B&B Eva in Brione. This twin bed apartment sleeps just two and breakfast is included. WiFi is available and there is private parking.
If you want an apartment there are plenty in Sonogno. Try Casa Betulla Number 6, which sleeps three and is well recommended: you get a modern kitchen and a double bedroom, plus a single bed in the large light living room. There are beautiful views of the mountains. Or if your party is larger, Casa Blu in Frasco sleeps six in four beds. They have satellite TV and the internet.
If you fancy trying a rustico, Casa Rustica Stella is not at all rustic, having been renovated and designer furniture installed recently. (The outside is old but the inside is modern!) This house in Brione sleeps five, but be aware it is by the main road. If the bridge in Lavertezzo draws you, and you want to stay in a typical rustic house, try Rustico “Ida” – in among the old group of houses and stables in the upper part of the village. It’s quiet and sunny there, and the views down the valley are spectacular.

By the way…
The yellow PostBus serves the villages in the Verzasca Valley, so if you are hiking, you won’t need to take the car or be forced to do a circular or there-and-back-again walk.

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