This week’s letter is ‘T‘ for
~ Ticino, Switzerland ~
There were several possibilities from my travels to pick for this week’s letter ‘T’. However, we are having visitors from overseas at the moment and when I talked to them they immediately suggested ‘Ticino‘. In case you are not familiar with it, the Ticino is the southern most state or canton, as they are called, in Switzerland. It is often called Italian Switzerland, because Italian is the official language there. But don’t worry, if you speak and understand Swiss-German you are o.k. – just kidding! Like in almost all European countries you will find it easy to get around with English. However, the proximity to Italy cannot be overlooked in nature, architecture and people.
Since I lived and worked in the German part of Switzerland for five years, I visited the Ticino several times. I loved the Mediterranean feel and ease of everything while still being close, in fact, very close to the Alps. Most of the time we stayed in the town of Locarno, which is right at the Lago Maggiore, one of the north Italian lakes. Noticed that I said ‘Italian’? That is because the Lago Maggiore is divided. The most northern part belongs to Switzerland and the bigger southern part to Italy. Staying in Locarno therefore gives you almost endless possibilities to explore two countries, a famous lake and the Alps. Can I say anything else?
The one place that we would always go to at least once during our stay, is the Valle Verzasca, the valley of the river Verzasca. There are other river valleys to visit and just as beautiful, but the Verzasca is most likely the best known one. Hence it is also very difficult not to end up being amongst a zillion of tourists when you go there. One thing that helps, is to go while the weather is not that good or to go slightly off-season and not during school holidays. A couple of times we were pretty lucky as you can see by the photos – hardly any people there.
When you go there you have to be prepared for a very (!) narrow and very winding road along the river valley on one side and rocky mountain on the other. Quite fun, but also dangerous. Don’t be surprised if you hear the honk of a horn, it is usually a fellow driver around the curve warning oncoming vehicles. The first landmark you will see is the Verzasca dam. It is huge and you can walk on to it, if you find a spot to park your car, and you can even go bungee jumping from it. Driving on you will get to the old Roman bridge at Lavertazzo, where you can go for a hike or a swim (Warning: The water is icy cold!). Here a lot of people stop their tour of the valley.
However, if you continue to the end of the valley, you will be rewarded by fantastic views of the Alps and the local village of Sonogno. This is an absolute pearl to walk through, to check out the local art shops and stop at a grotto (tavern) for a drink or meal and to take in the views. While I am writing this, I am already wishing myself to be there – again… sigh… In Sonogno you can also take a closer look at the stone or slate houses, very unique and picturesque. Just as the mountains and many smaller and bigger waterfalls you will see while you are driving along.
I hope I managed to wet your appetite to go visit the Ticino. I know that I would certainly love to go. So that’s it for this week’s travel with the letter ‘T’ – hope to see you soon again.
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