The Verzasca Valley is a true naturalistic icon of Ticino. Here every year many photographers and instagramers compete to capture the most beautiful picture of its green mountains, finely polished rocks, and turquoise waters. But the Verzasca, with its perched villages and stone houses, is also a witness of the difficult daily life in the most remote mountain valleys.
We love... Verzasca Valley!
The Verzasca is a narrow “V-shaped” valley about 25 kilometers long, characterized by lush mountains, crystal-clear waters, and ancient villages with stone houses. It borders the Leventina and Maggia valleys and is surrounded by mountains that are an average of 2,400 meters high, while the valley floor is between 500 and 900 meters high. Water is the master here. Numerous are in fact the waterfalls visible along the sides of the mountains. But the real attraction of the valley are the numerous natural pools of the Verzasca River, famous for the turquoise color of their waters. In spite of its innate beauty, its ancient history, and its proximity to the cities, the valley’s difficult accessibility has long preserved its historical customs and traditions, which give it an authentic flavor even today.
Arriving by public transport
The whole valley is served by the PostBus line 321 that from the Tenero train station leads to Sonogno following the cantonal road on the east side of the valley. The line runs all year round, but the frequency is variable. The Tenero station can be easily reached with the FSS trains. Train and bus tickets can be purchased through the SBB website or through the SBB App and, as always, we suggest to check in advance the updated timetables and the different travel options.
Arriving by car
Since the end of the 19th century, it has been possible to reach the valley through the cantonal road that, on the east side of the valley, passes through Vogorno, Corippo, Lavertezzo and so on until Sonogno, where it ends. Along the road there are several parking areas.
The access to the valley is possible also on the west side, where the road ends in Mergoscia. From here you can take the hiking trail that, passing through the village of Corippo, continues to Sonogno.
Hike overview & map
The “Sentierone della Verzasca” is a long hiking trail that leads from the Verzasca dam to Sonogno. It is about 24 km long and to walk it in its entirety would take about 9 hours. We therefore suggest that you follow it in stages: there are numerous guesthouses, rural houses and bed & breakfasts along the route. However It is an easy route, accessible to everyone and suitable also for families with children who, along the whole walk, will find several opportunities for entertainment. The proximity to the cantonal road, on the east side of the valley, allows you to interrupt the route at any time at one of the many public transport stops (of course, if you are on the west side of the route, you will have to get to the first useful crossing bridge). However, due to the strong presence of water along the sides of the valley, during spring and autumn or after heavy rains, some sections may be slippery: so be careful!
The starting point of this hike
The itinerary we walked start from the bus stop “Lavertezzo Ai Poss” and walk up to Brione Verzasca. The “Lavertezzo Ai Poss” bus stop is located along the cantonal road, in an open space where there is also a small parking lot for those arriving by car. Just above the stop there is a pension and a bar-restaurant. Obviously, since we had to wake up at dawn to catch the train, we didn’t miss the opportunity to start our excursion with a good espresso.
While the arrival is on the east side of the valley, the hiking trail is on the west side. To reach it, there is a convenient footbridge that, with its view on the river waters, gives us a wonderful preview of what will be the Leitmotif of the trail: water! A little further on, a short stone staircase leads to the first stone houses, characteristic of this part of Ticino.
The path, comfortable and well beaten, runs along the river, allowing us to photograph wonderful natural pools with incredibly crystal clear waters.
“Ponte del salto” and Lavertezzo
After about 1 km of walking we reached the Ponte del Salto, an authentic icon of Ticino and certainly one of the most loved and photographed attractions of the valley. Improperly called also “Roman Bridge”, in reality the present bridge dates back only to the seventeenth century. Partially destroyed in 1868, the stone pedestrian bridge was rebuilt in 1960 and has a characteristic double arch shape. Crossing it offers a unique view of the river and its many natural pools, destination of many bathers who have elected them as a privileged place of leisure and summer relaxation. A little further back from the bridge, on the eastern side of the valley, the tiny village of Lavertezzo with its stone houses is worth a short visit. The village, generally known for the presence of the “Ponte del Salto”, is dominated by the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, in baroque style, dating back to the 18th century.
Verzasca Valley Art Trail and Waterfalls
Turning back and crossing the Ponte del Salto again, the trail continues along the west side of the valley to Ganne. Along this 4.5-kilometre stretch of the route is the “A Path for Art” project, which was created with the intention of bringing together the natural beauty of the Verzasca Valley with modern works of art of various kinds in a unique exhibition context. The works were conceived and designed to blend in with the surrounding landscape, in the knowledge that time, nature and the hand of man would gradually alter their appearance, in some cases to the point of complete destruction. Out of the 34 original creations, today only about twenty are left, some of which are so well camouflaged to be invisible to an inattentive walker. However, the path is well marked by dedicated signs.
Having reached the halfway point, it is now time to eat a sandwich and recover some energy. To do so, we chose one of the huge smoothed stones along the path, from which we had the privilege to relax and look at the river and its calm waters. A short stop and off we go again!
From here on the path is characterized by the presence of small and large waterfalls that flow along the walls of the valley. The most interesting area is certainly the one that develops in the territory of Aquino (GPS 46.268293, 8.816291). In order to facilitate the crossing of the most difficult stretches, small crosswalks have been installed. The area has also been equipped with benches and tables for relaxation. It is therefore worth a stop.
A little further on, a small self-service shelf allows you to buy homemade food products, such as jams, honey and syrups. For payment, of course, there is the honesty-box!
Final sprint and arrival
If you are tired, at the end of the “Art Trail”, you can take the bus back at the “Brione, Ganne” stop. But in our case, we decided to continue for about one kilometer more until Brione Piee, crossing the Verzasca bridge. From Ganne, in fact, the path continues on the east side of the valley and becomes a little steeper. In the last stretch there are short ascents and descents and the valley becomes narrower, characterized by the even more massive presence of large colored rocks along the riverbed, which appear and disappear among them.
At Brione, a footbridge allows you to return to the west side. Here, a bar-restaurant allows you to refresh yourself before taking the bus back to town.
Lavertezzo’s natural pools are perfect for cooling off on a hot summer’s day. The large smooth rocks around the “Ponte del Salto” provide a comfortable place to rest and sunbath. An idea for a more pleasant stay? Bring with you a drink or a bottle of prosecco and, before drinking it, put it for a while in the cool waters of the river! But be sure to take your garbage back with you!
The ethnographic path Revöira, which starts from Lavertezzo, is an interesting alternative to the classic route on the west side of the valley. It is dedicated to the alpine pastures just above the valley and tells those who walk it about the difficult daily life of the local shepherds, in a natural environment that in the past (hard to believe today!), has seriously suffered from water shortage. The path extends for about 4.5 km, starting from Lavertezzo and passing through Sambugaro and Revöira. At the end of the trail, in Motta, you can cross the pedestrian bridge over the river and return to the Sentierone on the west side.