Valle Verzasca

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view from the dam towards Mergoscia
view of Vogorno looking north
Rustici in Berzona/Vogorno
Corippo, Switzerland's smallest municipality

The Valle Verzasca is a valley in the Locarno district of the Canton of Ticino, Switzerland. It comprises the municipalities of Mergoscia, Vogorno, Corippo, Lavertezzo, Brione, Gerra, Frasco, and Sonogno. As of 2004, the total population of 3,200. Mergoscia is at the geographical center of the Ticino, and none of the passes out of the valley cross cantonal or national borders. The valley is formed by the Verzasca River and is situated between the Leventina and the Maggia and culminates at Pizzo Barone.


Located between the Leventina and the Valle Maggia valleys, Valle Verzasca extends over a length of 25 kilometres (16 mi) in north–south direction, and is situated in the north of the Lago Maggiore. The valley floor is at about 500 metres (1,640 ft) to 900 metres (2,953 ft)above sea level. The surrounding mountains respectively passes have an average altitude of 2,400 metres (7,874 ft). The Valley is crossed by the Verzasca river, it is dammed at the southernly outlet of the Valley, forming the Lago di Vogorno, before it flows in the Magadino plain in the vicinity of the Ticino River in the Lago Maggiore.


Due to the different altitudes, all climate zones are combined in the Valle Verzasca. Tenero-contra and Gordola include the insubric climate region thanks to the deep sea level, close to the Lago Maggiore and protected by the mountains from the north winds. Vineyards and Mediterranean vegetation benefit of the mildest climate of Switzerland, nebulae are rare and rainfall of short duration. With increasing altitude the hills and mountain climate goes over to regions dominated by the Alpine climate (over 2,000 metres (6,562 ft)).

Flora and fauna[edit]

The diversity benefits among other things, the cultivation of vines, and it flourish chestnut forests and palm trees thrive. Due to differences in soil type and the amount, almost all flora occurring in the Ticino and fauna of the various environmental zones are found in the Verzasca Valley.

By the Romans introduced and comparable to the tropical wood species, Castanea sativa is in the southern part of the valley, below 1,000 metres (3,281 ft), the dominant species. It is no longer actively cultivated, but favors the further diffusion, and studies suggest to take advantage of the valuable wood of chestnut as a valuable wood.

In the Valle Verzasca the endemic Nera Verzasca goat has been preserved, which looks very much like the ancient Roman goat. This medieval durable goat has short hair, because it's not stuck in the snow.


Due to its isolated location, the Verzasca Valley is claimed as one of the valleys that could best keep its originality. The secluded geographical location made it unattractive for conquerors since the Roman period, and even before. The first traces of settlement in the area are from the early 2nd millennium BC, in its southern part. In Berzona, a locality (frazione) of Vogorno, a carved rock known as a Sass di Striöi (literally: witches stone) is situated on a hiking trail. A shell rock most likely dating from around 600–700 BC; there are about 90 such carved rocks in the Verzasca Valley. Although initially free farmers, the valley was alternately ruled by the Swiss Confederacy, Savoy, Leventia and the Rusca family from about 1410 onwards. In the European Middle Ages, the population were mainly farmers, and since the early 17th century, many residents had to leave for seasonal labour outside their home valley. Often unemployed young men were recruited as mercenaries for foreign armies. In two quarries granite is mined by local workers.[1]

The so-called Rustici (Italian for farm house) in grey stone, with white borders on the windows and heavy stone roofs, are typical houses in the valley. Wood rafters are used to support the heavy stone roof, Castanea sativa wood. Many chapels along the way bear witness to the deep faith of the inhabitants of the valley. Valle Vercasza was the origin of many of the region's so-called Spazzacamini (literally: chimney sweep children).[2][3]


With the connection to the public transport, tourism developed from the end of the 19th century, but still the majority of the young people of the Valley is looking for an income in wealthier regions of Switzerland or northern Italy. As of today, the majority of the locals is active in the tourism. The conversion of the old Rustici houses into holiday houses created jobs, increased tourism revenues and ensured that the old houses and the characteristic image of the Verzasca Valley are preserved.

The mountaintop with views of the Valais, Bernese, Glarus and Grisons Alps, as well as the many transitions in the side and neighbouring valleys are popular to mountain hikers, and around a dozen mountain huts provide accommodation and meals. The Verzasca River is popular to canoeists and divers, but considered to be dangerous and difficult. The Verzasca Dam is also well known for its 220 m height jump, which is one of the highest jumps in the world and also the most famous bungy jump, as it was used in the James Bond film GoldenEye.


The only valley access for road traffic and the Postauto buses is bounded from Tenero or Gordola. The starting on the left side of the valley road (built from 1866 to 1871) crosses Vogorno, Corippo, Lavertezzo, Brione (Verzasca), Gerra (Verzasca), Frasco and ends in Sonogno; a short road leads to Corippo. On the right side of the valley, the road and post road trips from Locarno ends in Mergoscia.


name elev. (m) coordinates from to
Ruscada, Passo di 2069 715.040/121.010 Vogorno > Cap.Borgna Cugnasco, Sementina (Magadinoebene)
Medee, Bocchetta di 2149 715.230/121.290 Vogorno > Cap.Borgna Preonzo (Valle Leventina)
Cazzane, Bocchetta 2104 714.730/121.520 Vogorno > Cap.Borgna Preonzo, Moleno (Valle Leventina)
Rognoi, Bocchetta di 2219 713.450/121.820 Lavertezzo Vogorno
Rierna, Bocchetta di 2295 710.960/130.210 Lavertezzo Personico (Valle Leventina)
Gana, Butta della 2207 709.200/132.630 Frasco Personico (Valle Leventina)
Corte Nuovo, Passo di 2431 708.980/131.010 Gerra Personico (Valle Leventina)
Gagnone, Passo del 2217 708.710/132.070 Frasco > Cap.d'Efra Personico (Valle Leventina)
Curtin, Passo del 2242 708.550/131.940 Frasco > Cap.d'Efra Personico (Valle Leventina)
Piatto, Passo di 2108 704.650/138.540 Sonogno Chironico (Valle Leventina)
Barone, Passo 2274 701.360/139.940 Sonogno Chironico (Valle Leventina)
Motto, Bassa di 2274 707.870/130.140 Lavertezzo Gerra
Lupo, Passo del 2017 704.870/120.360 Corippo Mergoscia Gordevio (Valle Maggia)
Orgnana, Bocchetta di 1950 704.650/121.980 Lavertezzo Gordevio (Valle Maggia)
Nimi, Passo di 2048 703.060/123.290 Brione > Cap. Alpe Gordevio (Valle Maggia)
Deva, Passo 2036 702.710/125.390 Brione Maggia (Valle Maggia)
Canova, Bocchetta 2226 696.050/130.780 Brione Giumaglio (Valle Maggia)
Pini, Bocchetta dei 2198 696.630/132.880 Brione Menzonio (Val Lavizzara)
Cocco, Passo del 2142 696.510/132.620 Brione Menzonio (Val Lavizzara)
Mügaia, Bocchetta di 2518 698.230/134.090 Brione Sonogno
Ciossa 2373 700.480/132.110 Brione > Val d'Osura Sognono
Redorta, Passo di 2181 699.010/135.850 Sonogno Prato-Sornico (Val Lavizzara)


  • Giuseppina Togni: Il prete rosso - Geschichte der Val Verzasca, Armando Dadò Editore, 2012, ISBN 978-88-8281-336-9.
  • Elfi Rüsch: Distretto di Locarno IV. Gesellschaft für Schweizerische Kunstgeschichte, Bern 2013, ISBN 978-3-03797-084-3.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Deniale Pauli Falconi (2014-01-15). "Verzascatal" (in German). HDS. Retrieved 2014-11-17.
  2. ^ "Spazzacamini - die Kaminfeger - Kindersklaven aus dem Tessin" (in German). Doppelpunkt, Radio DRS 1. 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2014-11-17.
  3. ^ Daniel Benz (2012-09-27). "Ausflug ins Verzascatal: Der Weg der Spazzacamini" (in German). Beobachter 20/2012. Retrieved 2014-11-17.