Bungee jumping like James Bond in the heart of Ticino
All cinema lovers know it, it is the opening scene of the film GoldenEye. James Bond takes a breathtaking leap that has remained in the annals of cinema. The scene will be remembered as the best stunt scene in film history, and not for nothing: stuntman Wayne Michaels set a new world record that day for the highest jump from a fixed structure.
Not many people know it, but it all happened right here in the Ascona-Locarno region. The jump that made the opening of the seventeenth chapter of James Bond's adventures famous was filmed in the Verzasca Valley, specifically on the Contra Dam, the water dam that blocks the course of the Verzasca River, channelling it into the artificial lake of Vogorno.
It's 1986 and to escape his pursuers, secret agent James Bond - played by Pierce Brosnan - jumps over 200 metres (721 ft.) in the unforgettable opening of the film GoldenEye. In reality, it is 1995, the structure from which James Bond jumps is the Contra Dam, at the entrance of the Verzasca Valley, and the jumper is not Pierce Brosnan but stuntman Wayne Michaels. Almost thirty years have passed, but the film still holds the Guiness World Record for the highest bungee jump from a structure in a film.
220 meters (721 ft.) high, a breathtaking view, an impressive drop and a free fall of 7.5 seconds for a record-breaking adrenalin rush. These are the ingredients of 007 jump or GoldenEye Bungee Jump, a jump that, thanks to the film, has become a real tourist attraction, a destination for every true fan of adrenaline jumps.
Built between 1960 and 1965 to a design by engineer Giovanni Lombardi and inaugurated on October 27, 1966 - although its first real test took place much earlier, with an exceptionally high flood on September 10, 1965 - the Contra Dam creates a 6-kilometre long reservoir and can produce an average of 227 million kWh of energy per year. Although it is "only" the fourth highest dam in Switzerland (after the Luzzone Dam in Ticino, the Mauvoisin Dam and the Grande Dixence Dam in Valais), it is home to the second highest fixed bungee jump installation in the world. The highest is in Macao, China, where primate jumping enthusiasts can jump from the Macau Tower at a height of 233 metres (764 ft.).
Whether you are a film lover, a curiosity seeker, fascinated by artificial lakes, a hiker seeking peace in the beauty of the landscape or a lover of a nice afternoon lying on the sun-warmed rocks by the river, the Verzasca Valley offers something for everyone.
The Verzasca Valley is not just a place for daredevils and extreme sports enthusiasts. For those who love unspoilt nature and the ancestral fascination of flowing water in a rocky canyon, the Verzasca with its crystal-clear green pools is a little paradise, as Instagrammable as it is intimately enjoyable. The peace and beauty of the views along the Sentierone are a real gourmet for photographers and lovers of that natural splendour which regenerates the spirit. Lavertezzo's Ponte dei Salti is another unmissable destination: built in the 17th century on the site of an ancient Roman bridge, it is a footbridge that crosses the course of the Verzasca River at a point famous for its picture-postcard landscape. Thus, the Ponte dei Salti has become the most photographed bridge in the entire region.