Flying under water

Though stunning above the surface, this river only reveals its true beauty underwater:

Number one on the Diviac list of 10 unbelievable freshwater dives – the Verzasca River.

This mountain waterway in Ticino flows through a wild, picturesque valley shaped over the course of millions of years by the power of the water and just one hour’s drive away from Locarno. The most beautiful diving spot is by the small village of Lavertezzo, directly below the “Ponte dei Salti” Roman stone bridge.

This is the perfect place to experience river diving at its fascinating best. The strong current allows divers to “fly”, a unique feeling that only river diving offers up. You can rise, descend, jink to the left or drift to the right with the slightest motions of your arms and legs. In the section where the river is narrower and faster, you can shoot down the channel and then out into a broad pool with crystal-clear views down into the depths of the blue and green water.

The unique underwater world of the Verzasca almost appears surreal at times. When the sun illuminates this narrow valley, crystals shimmer on the smooth rock faces, while the smoothed quartz, granite, feldspar and mica boulders resemble oversized marbles scattered along the waterway. The layers in the rocks exposed by the water create a mesmerizing natural composition, as freshwater trout dance in the current or relax in the deep.

It is difficult to imagine anywhere that exudes such a sense of adventure. And if flying underwater is not enough for you, you can even soar above the surface with a bungee jump from the stone walls at the entry to the Verzasca Valley. The jump, secured by a 220-metre cord, is undoubtedly as memorable as the river diving itself. And after all that action, there could be no better way to return to terra firma than in one of the shady grottos in the valley over a grilled luganighetta risotto and a glass of merlot.

Photo credits: The photographer Mirko Zanni lives in Locarno and dives in the most beautiful places worldwide. In Antibes, he won up the International Prize for a Book of Underwater Images for his book Water Vision. You can order your copy directly from Mirko Zanni.

More on river diving in the Verzasca Valley:

We recommend diving together with an experienced local guide, as the conditions on the river can change very quickly.

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