"CORIPPO - POPULATION 12." This welcome sign might as well be posted at the entrance of this tiny hamlet in Switzerland.
Tucked away on the lush green slopes of Ticino's Verzasca Valley, the picturesque village of Corippo holds tons of character, history, and local flavor. When we recently stopped by Corippo, a handful of residents waved at us. We explored the cobblestone alleys, took pictures of the granite-covered houses, marveled at the church tower, and: we fell in love!
Meet Corippo, Switzerland's smallest commune
Without a doubt, this tiny mountain village has managed to maintain its rustic charm from centuries past. But unfortunately, the once-thriving farming community of 300 inhabitants is now shuffling towards extinction. Like in other places, younger generations have moved to bigger towns in order to pursue a modern lifestyle.
Consequently, the population of Corippo has dwindled to only 12 residents. They are mostly retired singles with a median age of 75 years. At 55, Claudio Scettrini is the youngest inhabitant of Corippo - and the only one who still works. (The former mayor now focuses on forestry and sheep herding.)
A master plan for a scattered hotel: Albergo diffuso
To save this 300-year-old Ticino village from turning into a ghost town, the Fondazione Corippo 1975 has plans to convert it into a comprehensive hotel complex with rooms scattered about the village.
Fabio Giacomazzi, an architect and the president of the foundation, has presented the following concept: the only restaurant in the village is the hotel's reception area, the square serves as the lobby, and the 30 unoccupied houses are the hotel rooms. Oh, and the streets are like hotel hallways...
Sustainable agriculture for a digital detox
There are also plans for goat farming, landscaping, as well as the planting of chestnut, hemp, and rye trees. Using available resources, the project wants to revive the surrounding areas in a sustainable way. Given the steep terrain, our Ticino friend lets us in on a legend: the locals will attach a sack to their hens to prevent the eggs from rolling downhill...
Giacomazzi says that the village-turned-hotel will give tourists an opportunity for a digital detox. Tourists will immerse themselves in the untouched, centuries-old rustic beauty of the hamlet. They will also be able to explore cultural sites, hike the scenic Verzasca Valley and savor the local restaurants.
How to visit Corippo in Ticino
The full three-stage restoration plan came with a price tag of 3.6 million francs. In June 2017, the project won the Swiss hotel and restaurant association's Hotel Innovation Award.
Switzerland's first scattered hotel opened in 2021. In case you simply want to take a look at Corippo without staying for the night, simply hop off the postal bus 321 at "Corippo, Bivio" and walk the remaining 20 minutes up the slope.
You will know you have arrived when a handful of kind residents wave at you!