Old traditions in the Onsernone Valley

This trip lets you discover what the people of the Onsernone Valley are especially proud of: their territory and their traditions.

D1 - Comologno, Alpe Salèi & VergelettoYou start at Comologno in the Onsernone Valley. Easily reached using public transport, this pretty village retains its rural charm and a few examples of fine architecture, such as the eighteenth century Palazzo della Barca. Stop a while to appreciate these. Most of the buildings were built with the proceeds from the sale of woven straw items, and the emigrants' love of their homeland. You will discover more later... Suffice it to say, straw weaving was the main economic activity in the Onsernone Valley for many centuries.

Make the most of the fresh air in the morning to start walking. The trail takes you past rural settlements and fascinating woods rich with the scent of larch. You reach the Alpe Salèi mountain hut in about 2 hours. Here the beauty of nature is simply stunning. A few minutes more and you reach the Laghetto di Salèi alpine lake, a jealously guarded secret in this remote corner of the canton. If you fancy a bite to eat, a friendly couple at the mountain hut can supply you with some local fare. You then head for Vergeletto (about 3 hours on foot). You can, of course, take the cable car if you wish. There you can watch and learn about the time-old process of producing farina bóna at the old mill. This foodstuff was once a staple for people living in the Onsernone Valley; in 2008 it received the prestigious Slow Food Presidium award and so now regularly appears once again on our tables. Farina bóna also features on restaurant menus: you simply must try the ice cream and the gnocchi made from farina bóna. Absolutely fabulous! And if you want to learn more about the secrets of good milling directly from the miller you can always book a guided visit. You can also find out why a mouthwatering aroma of popcorn often lingers in the streets of Vergeletto. There are many different places to stay the night in the Onsernone Valley, though it is best to book well in advance and check the public transport timetables.

D2 - Berzona, Loco & IntragnaThe next day you can spend some time discovering the fascinating world of straw weaving. To do this, visit the Pagliarte workshop in Berzona. There the local craftsmen will proudly show you their creations and explain the origins of straw weaving and the processes involved.

You can even have a go yourselves and create your very own souvenir. Guided tours and workshops need to be booked in advance. Rich in your new-found knowledge, follow the Via delle Vose to the Centovalli: this is an historically important mule-track that was once the main link between the two valleys. The inhabitants of the Onsernone Valley would follow this route to market in order to sell their straw products. On reaching Intragna, take a bit of time to wander around the narrow streets before climbing to the church and its bell tower (the highest in the Canton Ticino). The Centovalli ethnographic museum is also worth a visit. Return to Locarno using public transport.

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