Our AirBnB part of the trip was turning out well. There was a festival in Locarno when we visited which made hotels near the Piazza Grande more than I wanted to pay. Also, we were planning on being on the move during our time there so a private room was fine. We had a great breakfast thanks to Renata. She told us about the town and stories from prior guests.
We walked into town, sat by the lake, walked to the bus/train station and caught the 1020 bus to Valle Verzasca. The valley has a gorgeous river running through with a parallel hiking trail. Biking is also popular. The scenery is breath-taking and there are also a few specific spots that are very cool. The Ponte dei Salti is a double-arch stone bridge that provides a jumping spot for the brave. There are also several grottos along the way to stop and eat/drink and really, it is a marvelous place for a day trip.
SMS and I took the bus to Brione, a little North of the bridge in Lavertezzo. We wanted to hike a bit before reaching the bridge. It was beautiful. The day was overcast and still, which made all the stone buildings and walls seems as if we were walking back in time. We reached the river’s edge and since it seemed like it might rain, SMS wanted to go for a swim. It was so cold! How was this the man who poo-poo’d the Aare river? At least that was 17C! The Verzasca River was 13C. We only stayed in for a couple of minutes but at least we got another river swim in!
We dried off and bought Carmelita ice cream (I guess we warmed up quickly) while waiting for the bus. We took the bus to Lavertezzo and admired the bridge, the beautiful swimming holes and the scrambling rocks along the shore and extending into the river. We saw one guy jump from the bridge and while I was tempted, I just couldn’t do it. It was really high and the water was so cold, I figured one of those elements had the capacity to damage me, ha ha.
Right across the bridge (away from the road) is Grotto al Ponte. We ordered the Platter Ticinese, with dried meat (pork), bread and Alpkase. We ordered the house red wine. We finished off our meal with a bread pudding tart and Nocino. It felt very extravagant, not in price but in leisureliness. We were outside, under a huge tree and next to a beautiful river.
We checked the timetable for the bus and decided to hike a little more along the river to the next bus stop. We set out from the restaurant, where the hiking path was on the same side of the river. We had to walk quickly but it was worth it. We crossed another bridge that overlooked the river and the amazing rock formations.
We made our way back to Locarno and took a nap! Then it was time for dinner. We decided to head above the city and check out Orselina. The funicular was not running frequently so we decided to take the path up the hill (read: small mountain). I decided to make a questionable decision even worse by convincing SMS to go up the Stations of the Cross path to the Madonna dei Sasso Church even though a sign clearly said there was no access through the gates after-hours. I somehow thought that might not be true but, please, we’re in Switzerland. Signs mean what they mean and, as a result, we basically climbed the hill (read: small mountain) twice. I’m glad SMS loves me!!!
But, Orselina was worth it. The town is beautiful. We passed a hotel with two very, very expensive cars out front. The restaurants were a little pricy but we decided to bite the bullet and were rewarded with the best dinner of our trip! We ate at Ristorante al Gusto da Christen, which was phenomenal. There was a mind-blowing tomato soup, an excellent risotto and the most exquisitely thin, delicious circle-shaped ravioli. I highly recommend it! Our waitress spoke Italian and German, so we got by in a little bit of both plus some Spanish. Eh, a little hodge-podge but it worked!
We headed back down the hill/mountain (so many steps!) and went to bed. I accidentally locked our landlady out by keeping the key in the lock but we hadn’t been asleep for long so the doorbell woke us up fairly quickly. Ooops!