Switzerland unplugged: a hike in the off-grid Bavona valley – The Guardian

When hydroelectric power first arrived in Switzerland’s Bavona valley in the 1950s, residents of its 12 hamlets gathered for a vote. Should they connect their valley – one of the steepest and wildest in the Alps – to the grid, or should they shun the trappings of the modern world?

Surprisingly, 11 of the 12 towns chose to reject electricity. That’s why on a sunny October day, as I walk the seven-mile path connecting Cavergno, in the south, with San Carlo, in the north, I see no wires, poles or antennas. It feels as if I’ve stepped back in time to a simpler era.

Switzerland is, according to the Human Development Index, the most “developed” country in the world. So, it defies all expectations to find a place like the Bavona valley, 18 miles north-west of Locarno in Switzerland’s Mediterranean-like (and Italian-speaking) canton of Ticino… (continue reading at The Guardian).