a magic valley
If you take your time and keep your eyes open, Vallemaggia will reveal its history of many thousands of years, where people struggled with nature and shaped a landscape that is both versatile and rich in culture. Archaeological finds show that the lower plains of “Vallis Madiae” were first inhabited around 2400 years ago by the ancient tribes of the Ligurian. This is the part of the valley where nowadays we still find many villages. The Ligurians were however probably not the first people to settle here… The valley retained its independence until 1513 when it was conquered by the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland. However, the new rulers did not bring any progress to the valley, so that Vallemaggia remained highly underdeveloped and poor when the last foreign landlords left in 1798. For this reasons, natives left the valley in droves to America between 1860 and 1930, depriving the region of its smartest and young. When emigration to the New World died down, people left their homestead for the cities. The number of inhabitants shrunk from 10,000 in 1700 to 4,500 in 1950. During the subsequent decades, this trend was however gradually reversed as some prosperity came to the valley. On the one hand, a number of hydroelectric dams were built, providing jobs in construction and the operation of the plants. On the other, the Swiss economy was strong and people were able to commute to and from work. Better roads brought tourists to the valley, and a certain prosperity came to the region, which has however not yet reached all the side valleys.