"Corippo is the gentlest village in the Verzasca Valley. A triangular conglomeration of grey houses with black roofs cascading onto the church that bears the impact by standing diagonally." This is how the Ticino writer Piero Bianconi described this rare example of an authentic rural settlement south of the Alps. Perfectly preserved, Corippo is protected at national level. Its uniqueness lies in the harmony created by the simple architecture of the slate-roof stone houses, all oriented in the same direction and connected by narrow paths.
Going up the Verzasca Valley, the village of Corippo springs out almost suddenly after passing the town of Vogorno, in the vicinity of San Bartolomeo. The slope on which the village is perched is so steep that according a local legend the Corippo inhabitants would tie a bag of fabric to the chicken's tails to prevent the eggs from rolling down the hill!
The long and narrow terracing visible at the front and back of the houses and supported by dry-laid walls are for poor vegetable gardens growing mostly rye and hemp. The stone-slated roofs are set on extremely solid and well-conceived beams that, just like the flooring, were preferably made of chestnut wood. The stones of the supporting walls are almost always thick and well squared. The windows are small and sometimes framed by a decorative strip of white lime with gratings. The village is considered a monument of national importance and is, therefore, rigorously protected. In 1975, in occasion of the European Architectural Heritage Year, Corippo has been designated “exemplary architectural implementation”.
For centuries the inhabitants were farmers and shepherds of cows, goats and sheep. They practiced transhumance since the 14th century, wintering with the livestock on the Magadino plain, where there was no scarcity of pastures and forage. Many examples of rural objects and tools used by the Corippo and Verzasca inhabitants are exhibited in the Ethnographic Museum in Sonogno.
Corippo's incessant depopulation - passing from a 294 residents in 1850 to today's 12 - is predominantly caused by emigration, inevitable due to the scarcity of agricultural resources. The most favoured destinations have been California (employment on ranches) and Australia (gold mining). Many Verzasca people of young and very young ages, like the residents in other Swiss-Italian valleys, used to emigrate only during the winter months, from November to Easter, to Lombardy and Piedmont to work as chimney sweepers. An entire section of the Ethnographic Museum in Sonogno is dedicated to this subject. The road was built only at the end of the 1800s.