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The Ticino's mountain valleys, set just a short distance from its major cities, are rugged reminders of the region's modest history. Stone homes, called rustici, dot the valleys, some of which are so deep that the sun never quite reaches bottom. Driving through these valleys can be disorienting. Time seems to have stopped; you'll encounter whole villages perched on craggy mountainsides in apparent
defiance of gravity. A short drive along Route 13 through the wild and rugged mountain gorge of the Valle Verzasca leads to Corippo, where a painterly composition of stone houses and a 17th-century church are all protected as architectural landmarks. The mountain village of Sonogno lies at the end of the 26-km (16-mile) valley.
Although it's only a few minutes from Locarno, tiny Ascona has a life of its own. It was little more than a fishing village until the end of...
All roads lead to Bellinzona, the fortified valley city that guards the important European crossroads of the St. Gotthard and San Bernardino...