Carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, the steep and rocky Bavona Valley in the canton of Ticino is famous for its dramatic alpine scenery as well as for the fact that there is no electricity grid there. The power in the valley is from solar sources as well as from small water turbines and generators. The landscape is also known for the awesome Foroglio Waterfall that rushes down an 80-meter high rock into the Val Calnegia. Along with hiking and biking, travelers can also walk the "Taking the Cows Up the Mountain" trail that recreates a local tradition through the villages of Cavergno and Bignasco, then along the valley floor to the Terra di Foroglio, and then up through the Calneggia Valley to cow pastures at heights of over two thousand meters.
We had the good fortune of exploring Val Bavona with Veronica Lafranchi of Ticino Tourism. Veronica showed us her family’s home, built in 1579 and still in the family. Talking with Veronica we learned of the valley locals' close knit ties: Veronica and her family personally knew the fellow who delivered the bread to the village daily. Walking through the Valley's villages with her was a walk back in time—but actually not backwards since the valley (whose inhabitants still sometimes rely on candles for light) seems frozen in a time before the clutter and noise of modern life drowned out the sound of cowbells and the soft golden light of tallow.
Ready to embark on your own Swiss adventure? Check out the itineraries that have been created by the members of AFAR’s Travel Advisory Council and other specialists at AFAR Journeys.