Timeless stones

Immerse yourself in a what seems like a long forgotten parallel world when you stroll through Foroglio, San Carlo, Roseto or the other nine villages of Val Bavona, Switzerland. The Ticino valley’s sustainable approach earned it the prestigious 2022 Global Vision Award, bestowed by the US magazine Travel + Leisure.

In the northen part of Ticino and a mere 80 km from Lugano, time seems to stand still. At the heart of an expanse of cool chestnut forests, small villages are to be found along a seven kilometre stretch on both sides of the river named after the valley, towered over by a 110 metre waterfall and marked by sheer rock faces. The wild formation of the valley is the result of heavy land and rockslides which the local people have tamed to meet their needs over the course of centuries. The inhabitants fashioned shelters with simple structures under the rocks known as ‘splüi’; on top of the rocks, small vegetable gardens arose, protected from the goats, and still a fixture in the landscape today.

When electricity cables were to be laid in the 1950s, the inhabitants considered electric light as a luxury they could do without. Which is why to this day, you can still experience the magic of this wild cultivated landscape practically unchanged. The stone houses are only inhabited from April until October; they still use candlelight and the only energy they consume is generated from solar and hydro power.

Mobile phones? Once you’re here, connecting to the outside world tends to be difficult. Not just from a technical perspective. In Val Bavona, the only connections that matter are those to the spectacular natural world, to the past that is also the present and to yourself, far from the chaos of everyday life.