Ticino is rich in waterfalls. The most spectacular one is that of Foroglio in the Bavona Valley, at the top of the Maggia Valley. The water plummets vociferously from a height of 110 meters through foam and splashes in a striking natural scenery. Nearby, a very charming village with houses gathered around a little church, reminding us of the life of past generations who practiced transhumance and lived in the Bavona Valley only from spring to autumn. To fully enjoy this natural show, we propose an itinerary in a paradise of rock around the waterfall.
"A waterfall – explains Professor Bruno Donati in the guide 'Foroglio' (agenziakay Editions) – forms only when there's a highly accentuated gradient that, in the case of Foroglio, was created by the connecting of two glaciers. The first, gigantic and mighty, extended down from the height of the Bavona Valley; the second, smaller and less impressive, collected the perennial snows of the Calneggia Valley. At the time of their melting (between 8'000 and 10'000 years AC) two depressions came to light both similar in shape, one the offspring of the other but with different widths and gradients. A main valley and a suspended lateral one, connected to each other by the waterfall's watercourse".
Next to the waterfall there is a gracious village with houses gathered around its little 15th century church where you can enjoy a Germanic school triptych of 1553 and a Roman painting from the end of the 16th century illustrating the "Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple". In the village, next to the traditional stone houses, you can also see some torbe: "buildings that functioned as barns - explains Bruno Donati - and that were constituted by a stone base with mushroom-shaped supporting structures on which lay an upper part made of wood. These are old buildings dating back to the days of the cultivation of rye, that was set to dry on the landing and preserved in the barn cell".
Among the most renowned citizens of the valley we find the Ticino writer Plinio Martini, author of Fondo del sacco (Bottom of the bag) that tells the story of peasant life in the past.
The Osteria Froda (tavern) located in Foroglio offers a splendid view on the waterfall. Run by an intellectual, Martino Giovanettina (author of the cited pocketbook), this is a place where, as described by Marco Müller ex Director of the Locarno and Venetian Film Festivals, "one can truly breathe another life, gaze at the waterfall and eat a minestrone or polenta with cheese based on some guy's recipe which is long lost in the city".
If you have more time…
Itinerary: Foroglio - Calnègia Valley (2h, see map</a>)
The itinerary (not very difficult) unfolds along cliffs, stony grounds, boulders and miniscule stone huts surrounded by meagre lawns. A landscape marked by nature: glaciers, rivers, floods and landslides have deeply moulded it. During the nice season the peasants of Bignasco and Cavergno moved to the Bavona Valley exploiting every single tuft of grass and used to go up the Calnègia Valley that opens up above Foroglio. The proofs of their activities are numerous and touching: every cleft, every boulder was used as shelter for people, livestock, cheese, hay and firewood. Humans' work and manmade constructions have admirably harmonized with the mineral and vegetal world, partially by adapting and partially by domesticating.
Leaving Foroglio, in the presence of the beautiful waterfall, you can go up thanks to a steep trail. Once you've reached the plain above the waterfall, you will encounter a first mid-altitude pasture, Puntid, where it is worth to make a detour of approximately 20 minutes (go and back) to an impressive building under the rock, the Splüia Bela, an ancient shelter for herdsmen and goats.
Once you return to Puntid, you will cross a pretty little bridge and continue along the level bottom of the valley (circa 3 km) between extremely steep stone walls. Along the course there's another signposted detour that leads to Gerra, another beautiful mid-altitude pasture. Back on the main trail you will shortly reach Calnègia, the last settlement before a very steep ascent to the mountain pastures, reserved for expert and equipped hikers. You will then return to Foroglio following the same course.
Caution: bathing in the pools next to the waterfall can be dangerous.
Note: in the Calnègia Valley cell phones are out of range.