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A drive through this rugged agricultural valley, stretching northwest from Locarno, will give you a sense of the tough living conditions endured for centuries by Ticinese farmers, whose descendants today quarry granite. The deep, dark valleys are a stark contrast to sunny Locarno, only a short distance south. Until the 1920s many Valle Maggia natives emigrated to the United States; some returned, bringing with them several English phrases that still pepper the local dialect. As you pass through Gordevio, Maggia, Someo, and Cevio—the latter, the valley's main village—you feel as if you're in a time capsule. There's little commercialization, and the mostly 17th-century houses call to mind a movie set. Bignasco, just beyond Cevio, is the last village before the valley splits in two as you continue north.
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