Our route begins in Monte Spluga, 1920 metres above sea level, which is beyond Splügen Pass on Italian soil. We have travelled here with the post office van or by private car.
On the west bank of the Lago di Monte Spluga reservoir, we walk to its southern end to the westerly dam and across the top of the dam to the trail leading to the easterly dam. A granite slab points out the old path. Now we climb quite steeply towards the valley, and soon spot the route plan carved into the rocks, which must be followed with care in wet weather. Vaulted rock passages and old supporting walls remind us of the former roadmaking skills of the Bündners, who ruled the region of Chiavenna until 1797. At Soste, 1544 metres above sea level, the valley river Liro, which is 57 km long and joins with the Mera (or Maira to the Swiss) at Chiavenna flowing down from Bergell, suddenly veers south; we cross it and hike along the right side of the valley to the village of Rasdeglia, where old wooden buildings are reminiscent of the Walser in neighbouring Rheinwald. The path winds on along the steep mountainside to Mottaletta. Travelling along the small road, we reach Isola, which centuries ago truly seemed like an “island” to travellers in the middle of the wild forest. In Isola there is a good Italian trattoria, where we can recover from the demanding hike with food and drink. Then it's back to Splügen with the post office van; but they only make two trips a day!
Cardinell Gorge: The trail was expanded through the Cardinell gorge, which was used for all Splügen transit until 1823, as far back as 1643. Countless frontier disputes have come to a tragic conclusion here. A French army marching through under Marshall Macdonald in December 1800 even lost several hundred lives. More harmonious, if not without its own tribulations, Goethe's journey ended here at the end of May 1788. Today Val del Cardinello is more peaceful, because no terrifying masses of water plunge towards the valley anymore since the building of the dam at Stuetta.
Monte Spluga – Dam – Soste – Rasdeglia – Mottaletta – Isola
all notes on protected areas
Getting there: By PostBus to Monte Spluga.
Getting back: By PostBus from Isola.
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike
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