Salei and Onsernone Valley

Trekking

Discover a charming little lake, a jewel of the Alpine landscape in the area of Salei, located above Vergeletto. It is an easy walk and a pleasant excuse to spend a day exploring the Onsernone. This valley has preserved an interesting appearance: it is very green, wild, slightly reserved and remote. Whoever visits it for the first time cannot avoid coming back in order to spend more time in the area. The valley has been appreciated by artists and famous writers thanks to its unique characteristics. Some of them found shelter there during darker times. Others, like Max Frisch, elected it homeland of the soul.

Itinerary: Salei (2h, see map)


From Vergeletto-Zott leave the cableway that leads to the area of Salei where a namesake pasture and a cabin are located (room and board). After an easy 40-minute walk along a trail that smoothly ascends, offering a priceless view over the Locarno region all the way to Lake Maggiore, you reach a little lake. An ideal place to relax surrounded by nature and to enjoy a picnic in the grass. More challenging excursions also start from Salei, like those that lead to Pilone and to the pastures of Porcareccio and Arena.

After descending into the valley with the cableway you may visit more typical places of the Onsernone Valley such as the old mills of Vergeletto (recently renovated) or the centre of Comologno where rustic architecture and noble homes coexist. The latter were built thanks to the fortunes of a handful of emigrants. Among these homes the one that stands out is the palace La Barca (literally "The Boat"). During World War II it welcomed the exiled and persecuted thanks to the openness of an intellectual couple, Aline Valangin and Wladimir Rosenbaum. Another jewel is the Gamboni Palace, a building of the 1700s, today transformed into a small boutique hotel, which includes a wellness area and rooms decorated with furniture of the time that has been preserved and restored with care.

The Bagni di Craveggia (old baths) are another place of great impact located a little further into Italian territory after Spruga. You can still see the buildings and the tubs of the old thermal baths and the crosses that are testimony to a dramatic moment of the 20th century: the battle of 1944 between the Nazi-Fascists and the Partisans, which occurred exactly in that spot and caused many victims.

To learn about the history, art, craftsmanship (especially that with hay) and the personalities tied to this beautiful region, we recommend visiting the Onsernone Museum in Loco.