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Valchiavenna and Valle Spluga

The wild landscape of the Acqua Fraggia is crossed only by mule tracks, hiking trails to the Alpine lakes in Val Chiavenna and beautiful paths in Valle dello Spluga through to the Swiss border.

This corner of Valtellina is just waiting to be discovered, with its untamed nature and towns that have preserved the old spirit of mountain villages, especially Madesimo and Chiavenna.

Acqua Fraggia valleys
Mountain pastures, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, paths, silence and nature. This is the ideal valley for those wanting to recharge body and mind on a break from the frenetic pace of the city, and Savogno, a tiny hamlet of stone houses where time has stood still, has the perfect answer in the form of a welcoming mountain refuge of the same name. No cars, just plenty of walks along the paths that lead up to the Lei, Avero and Turbine mountain passes. The scenic trail to the Acqua Fraggia waterfall is not to be missed, one of Valtellina’s most beautiful water features, which "digresses" into the neighbouring Bregaglia valley. Savogno is also the starting point for excursions that lead to the village of Dasile and from there to the mountain pastures of Corbia and the Lago dell’Acqua Fraggia.

Border alpine lakes
Isola hamlet of Madesimo is the starting point for a hike up to the lakes Baldiscio and Mot. Along the way, walkers will come across mountain pastures with the typical baite or lodges known as “carden” as the landscape gradually changes: from larch woods with
the river running through them, to the vast grassy meadows of the great plain up to the huge lake of Baldiscio, near the pass of the same name that marks the Italian-Swiss border. For those with energy to spare, it is worth a further climb around the northern
bank of the Lake Mot at 2,349 metres a.s.l.

Madesimo
A jewel set into the mountains on the Italian-Swiss border, Madesimo has preserved intact its concept of mountain village and is the perfect destination for relaxing mind and body, with outdoor activities in nature. From easy walks around the lake or in the valley bottom, to hikes lasting a few hours or an entire day, plus climbing, riding up and down mountain bike trails, fat bikes and downhilling, with no fewer than six trails and tips from expert instructors. Giosuè Carducci, the Italian poet and writer, stayed at length in Madesimo and the places he visited are included in the Percorso Carducciano, which takes visitors to see some of the buildings in the centre of town, such as the Monumento del Poeta, Villa Adele andthe Osteria Vegia, as well as natural destinations for hikes and walks such as the path for Motta or the Lago Azzurro.

The giants’ park
The Parco delle Marmitte dei Giganti is a park inside a nature reserve just outside the town of Chiavenna. Easy to reach along the mule tracks and paths that led to the old soapstone quarries, all the area offers especially beautiful scenery, majestic, fascinating
geomorphological aspects that create a wonderful environment. A walk through untamed nature, but also into ancient history: there are countless rock engravings, figurative pictures and dates on the smoothed surfaces and vertical walls of the old
quarries, on the isolated boulders and in the small caves, accompanied by abstract geometrical shapes, marks, signs and symbols, many of which still today of unknown meaning.

The tower overlooking the valley
A must-visit is the Torre di Segname in Gordona in Val Chiavenna, one of the few remaining towers and evidence of the strategic importance of this valley as a route linking the mountains and lowland. Built on the top of an unassailable rocky outcrop, this lookout tower dominates the entire valley and can even be seen at night when it is lit up. It is open to visitors by day. The same can be reached by following two different paths from the villages of Gordona and Samolaco.

 

Highlights

1. Carden. These typical wooden buildings are made by removing the bark from tree trunks and fitting them together to make walls that are then topped by a gable roof covered with local grass sods. These small buildings, today used as barns, are dotted all over the valley, but the most interesting rural village is San Sisto, on the plain of the same name, at the foot of the Pizzo della Sancia mountain.

2. The goodness of water. Acquamerla park is just outside the town of Campodolcino and gets its name from the "Acqua Merla” natural spring, renowned for the goodness of its water with a low mineral content. It is the ideal picnic spot, somewhere children can have fun and adults can relax. It is also an excellent starting point for walks to Starleggia, San Sisto and Pian dei Cavalli.

3. "Mulino della Bottonera". Chiavenna, the valley's most important town, has an old artisan district called the Bottonera, home to a mill used by the former Pastificio Moro bakery that has been turned into an interesting museum of industrial archaeology. It houses the machines used to grind wheat into flour and for the various other stages in production.

4. Festival in the Caves. Since the fifties, every September Chiavenna has held the "Sagra dei crotti” when many of the local caves used for conserving food are opened to the public. Some of these are included in the “Andèm a Cròt” itineraries, while others can be visited as normal restaurants, serving typical menus with all traditional Valtellina dishes.

5. Pratogiano market. The market held every Saturday in the main square in Pratogiano, Chiavenna, is one of the most colourful and popular with locals and tourists alike, all drawn by the bargains on sale on the many stalls. The market opens in the early morning and sells fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, sweet treats and other foods.

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