Responsible for this content Ascona-Locarno Tourism
Cascata del Salto, Maggia
Photo: Mariano Berri, Ascona-Locarno Tourism
The Vallemaggia is crowned by mountain ridges on whose slopes alternate thick woods, meadows, crystalline lakes, and spectacular waterfalls. The proposed route is flat, accessible to accompanied visually impaired persons and wheelchair users, and starts and ends in Maggia, passing through the villages of Lodano and Moghegno.
Distance 6.6 km
Highest point365 m
Lowest point316 m
The river Maggia springs from Pizzo Cristallina, in the Alps of Ticino, and flows down until it reaches Lake Maggiore, between Ascona and Locarno. The Vallemaggia gets its name from this river, and it is the vastest valley in the Italian part of Switzerland, encompassing also various side valleys, including the Val Rovana, the Val Bavona, the Val Lavizzara, and the splendid Valle di Lodano whose ancient beech forests have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Every season is perfect to pay a visit to Vallemaggia, which is crowned by mountain ridges on whose slopes alternate thick woods,meadows, crystalline lakes, and spectacular waterfalls. Small villages with stone houses, picturesque squares, and grotti where one can taste the local dishes are set like jewels into this fantastic nature! The Vallemaggia must be explored at a slow pace in order to take advantage of the many and easy trails that cross it.
Our itinerary is one of these: level grounded, making a loop accessible to everybody, starting and ending in Maggia, passing through the towns of Lodano and Moghegno, for a total of six kilometers and a half, taking in total a little less than two hours.
So, we start from Maggia, the biggest village in the valley, about twenty kilometers north of Lake Maggiore’s banks. There are a range of facilities here, including restaurants, shops, and the renowned bakery Poncini which has received many international awards for its delicious panettone. If you have the chance, don’t miss the one with chocolate! In the early morning, the fragrance of freshly baked bread and sweets wafts through the streets of the village, reminding us that an excursion worthy of its name deserves a prime-quality breakfast!
The church of Maggia, dedicated to San Maurizio, surmounts a small hill whose top you can reach by walking up a steep staircase. It’squite probable that the original structure was built before the year onethousandand and it has radically been modified in the following centuries.
From here we can hear in the distance the loud sound of water crashing against the rocks. It comes from the waterfall of the Salto, 60 meters tall, that gives origin to a large body of water. The Vallemaggia is renowned for its imposing cascades: that of Foroglio, in Val Bavona, is atruly amazing spectacle of nature, and it's also easily reachable by foot. After the church of San Maurizio, and proceeding towards Lodano, we have two options: we can either take the leisurely bike path which stretches over the main road, in the direction of Lodano, or we can followthe level path alongside the right banks of the river which crosses the floodplain, through woods of chestnuts, hazels, limes, and oaks.
The Vallemaggia boasts one of the most spectacular alluvial landscapes of the whole Switzerland, and it’s considered to be unique in its kind also at a European level! The Maggia is a river of a torrential character which, during the dry season with heavy rains, can increase its flow up to thousands of times its rate ! This peculiarity has contributed to the conformation of different natural environments of a high landscape and naturalistic value. Many tracks allow us to cross humid territories characterized by woods, oxbow lakes, and floodplains which are under environmental protection.
The trees offer refuge to numerous species of birds whose songs keep us company along our journey. If we pay attention, we can discern the shrill and strident call of the starling, the crackling one of the redtailed chimneysweep, the jolly one of the black redstar , and also the callredolent of laughter of the great tit…
We are almost midway. On the other bank of the Maggia, there’s Lodano: one of the most characteristic villages of Vallemaggia, surroundedby woods and meadows, where in summer it’s worth taking a refreshing bath in the limpid waters of the river. By the way, in the centerof the village, there’s an Infopoint where you can obtain all the informationon the peculiarities of the fairy-like Valle di Lodano and its heritage of primordial beech forests: a genetic reservoir not only for the beech but also for the many animal and vegetable species which depend up on this habitat.
From Lodano we follow a secondary road toward Moghegno, our next stop, now crossing verdant fields, punctuated by cottages. As an alternative to the road, one can reach it also by an easy hiking trail immersed in green woods, rivulets, fields and small groups of cottages. Depending on the season, it’s not unusual to stumble into cows, donkeys, sheeps or lamas grazing around…also in winter, when from thehouse chimney-tops small clouds of smoke billow out, the atmosphere isvery suggestive.
At a certain point, on the left, you'll find a pretty chapel with a bigstone and the woods in the background… We have arrived in Moghegno: a small village, crossed by cobbledalleyways; here, in autumn, one is welcomed by the strong smell of roasted chestnuts coming from the gra’, a particular stone construction equipped with a lattice on which even nowadays the chestnuts are lain to dry.
We remind you that chestnuts were an indispensable food in the rural kitchens. Their flour, less expensive than that of wheat, was the primary ingredient of soups, vegetable, meat, and sweet dishes. In short,chestnuts were the bread of the poor; however, in order to last long, they had to be dried for three over the fire on the hearth of the gra’: a traditionof Ticino to retain and pass onto future generations. From Moghegno, an impressive and modern footbridge suspended above the river leads us towards Maggia.
Dear lovers of blues music, keep in mind that Vallemaggia is famousfor its summer festival which takes places between the months of July and August. During Vallemaggia Magic Blues, the stages of themost characteristic squares of this corner of Ticino host renowned nationaland international artists of the blues genre. Music, magic atmospheres,and illustrious interpreters have made it one of the chief blues festivals of Switzerland! It can’t be missed!
We are approaching Maggia…for those who fancy it, within halfan-hour walking distance, over the town and alongside the steep staircase,there’s the chapel of the Pioda. It’s very picturesque and there are some frescos inside, which date back to the XV century. Particularly interesting is the one with the depiction of a three-headed Christ datingback to 1715 and considered to be a blasphemous work! On the side ofthe chapel, lodged on a spur of rock, there’s the Vigneto della Pioda, aheroic vineyard rehabilitated in recent years.
We’ve arrived in Maggia, where our journey ends. While walking through the alleyways of this ancient village we think back about what we visited today: about the ancient beech forests, the verdant fields, the crystalline waters of the river. But this is only a first taste of what Vallemaggia can offer, a natural paradise enriched with fresh hues at every season and where one can discover the most authentic face of Ticino.
From Locarno railway station: bus 315 towards Cavergno, Paese. Alight at Maggia, Centro. Return from Maggia, Centro: bus 315 towards Locarno Stazione. Alight at Locarno station. Further information: www.sbb.ch
32T 477327 5121393
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Round tripRefreshment stops availableFamily-friendlyFloraFaunaAccessibilityDog-friendlySuitable for strollers