Too Many Travelers Ignore This Swiss Destination With Clear Waters And An Iconic Bridge

When you think of a pretty village in Switzerland, perhaps you imagine little stone houses set on a hill, surrounded by greenery and the perfect blue sky. Maybe in your vision, there is a clear river running by as you ramble through the mountains with your trusty hiking stick. Of course, you probably think this is a vision from the movies or a painting you saw once.

That picture above isn't from a museum or a Hollywood production, however. This vision in your mind's eye actually exists. However, it's a small town that a lot of tourists ignore. If you happen to be in Switzerland's Ticino canton, you (and your social media accounts) cannot afford to do so. This fairytale spot is Lavertezzo, a small village with less than 1,200 residents. It comes complete with an amazing double-arched bridge and the startlingly clear Verzasca River. Let's take a look at the picturesque area and everything you need to know before you go.

What to know about Lavertezzo, Switzerland

This lovely village was first mentioned in 1327 under the name Laverteze, though the area has a number of rock carvings that date back to around 600-700 BCE. These days Lavertezzo is a small Italian-speaking rural settlement. Despite the mountains all around, the elevation is only .3 miles above sea level. The little village is full of charming stone houses called rustico, many with religious murals painted on them.

Many people just travel to Lavertezzo for the day, as it and the surrounding villages are tiny, with few shops and restaurants. It's pretty easy to do a day trip. That said, if you go to Lavertezzo in the summer for a swim or a picnic, you may find yourself hanging with a lot of other tourists. You can drive there, but do keep in mind that those other tourists likely came with cars as well, and there isn't a lot of parking. You can also ride your bicycle in, or take a bus from Tenero-Contra, Ascona, or Locarno to Lavertezzo Paese. The bus from Locarno is only about 30 minutes, but do note that the buses can be crowded in the summer.

The Ponte dei Salti and the Verzasca River

The big draw for Lavertezzo is the 17th-century double-arched stone bridge called the Ponte dei Salti, though you might also see it called the Ponte Romano (Roman bridge). The bridge, which helped people get themselves, carts, and animals across the river, was partially destroyed in 1868 and reconstructed in 1960. Above it, you'll see the 18th-century Madonna degli Angeli Parish Church. The name Ponte dei Salti translates from Italian to "jump bridge," and people do indeed jump in from there. If you do so, it's just under 50 feet down. The rocks can be slippery, and there is a fast current in spots. Make sure you exercise caution and jump at your own risk.

That said, the Verzasca River that flows under this bridge is astonishingly lovely. The water is often referred to as green or emerald, and is incredibly clear. There are little pools in the rocks around the river to soak in, though the water is rather chilly. You can also kayak in this river, but the water can be rough in spots. Many people picnic on the river banks, but you must pack in and out, and you'd do well to bring the food with you rather than relying on the small village stores.

Hiking is popular in the Lavertezzo area as well. You can take the Sentiero Verzasca river trail that goes through the villages around. Another goes from the Ponte dei Salti to the Ponte bivio Corippo – about 1.7 miles — and starts on the side of the river opposite the main road and goes south.