After our lovely interlude in St Moritz (see here) we rejoined our coach for the return journey to Menaggio. Having arrived in the Engadine Valley via the stunning Bernina Pass, we travelled back towards the Italian border on the south west route via the Maloja Pass. We’d never been this way before and it was one of the reasons we chose to do the guided day trip from Menaggio. I was also very glad that we had the luxury of being driven as we could admire the gorgeous scenery and not have to worry about driving off the road at a hairpin bend!
We drove past pretty villages, Silvaplana and Sils/Segl Maria both nestling by shimmering alpine lakes with many attractions if you’re looking for an alternative to St Moritz. Sils is especially known as a tranquil paradise and a place in which to recharge your batteries. It has always appealed to artists and writers – Nietzsche was drawn to the area and the Nietzschse House in Sils is a popular tourist attraction. The guest list of the Waldhaus Hotel reads like a Who’s Who – David Bowie, Marc Chagall, Albert Einstein and Richard Strauss among many others have all stayed here. The artist Giovanni Segantini (his story is well worth a read) spent his final five years here and the Segantini Museum in St Moritz is dedicated to his work. It’s not too difficult to see why this area has given inspiration to so many artists and literary figures!
Leaving Sils behind we approached the head of the impressive Maloja Pass. I’m not sure whether it’s better to be driving up or down – either way even in the capable hands of our experienced coach driver, Hermes, I confess to feeling a tad apprehensive. 1815 m at its top elevation, the Maloja links the Engadine Valley with the Italian speaking Val Bregaglia (still in Switzerland though). The Maloja Pass is an essential route through the Alps and as a Swiss Post Bus route (St Moritz to Chiavenna in North Italy), it is a priority to keep it open all year round even in midwinter.
Safely reaching the bottom of the pass, we drove on through the gorgeous Val Bregaglia (das Bergell in German) another slice of paradise! Beautiful and remote, it has numerous mountain trails and walking paths and was also known as the “Artists Valley” as so many artists, drawn by its tranquillity and beauty, came to paint and live here. Segantini spent time here and the artist Alberto Giacometti was born here. Alas the little village of Vicosoprano has, according to our guide Julia, had an unfortunate past. She pointed out the court house with a round roof, the Pretorio built in 1583, which was the setting for some infamous witch trials in the late 17th century. Fortunately she spared us the details but there was a slightly eerie feeling driving through the village. The surrounding scenery however was wonderful!
Although not on any rail links, the Bregaglia is serviced regularly by the Swiss Post Buses that ply the Maloja route. We have used them ourselves on a previous trip (via the San Bernardino Pass from Thusis to Bellinzona) and they are a fun and interesting way to travel plus like everything else in Switzerland highly reliable!
Copyright © 2016 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved