After a massive landslide hit the village of Bondo and surrounding areas in August, major reconstruction work had to be carried out before the region could be deemed safe and residents could return to their homes.
Ever since, tourism has understandably suffered. In September and October the Val Bregaglia had up to 15 percent fewer overnight tourists, the region’s tourism director Michael Kirchner told the press this week.
Worse, practically no day tourists are visiting, he said, a serious loss for the valley of 1,600 inhabitants, for whom tourism is a major source of income.
It could take until 2019 until tourism figures stabilize, said Kirchner.
However, while work is still ongoing to rehabilitate the village of Bondo, the rest of the valley remains open to tourists. So here’s why you should visit the Val Bregaglia this winter
It has some of Switzerland’s best cross-country skiing and snowshoeing
Photo: Graubünden Tourism
There are more than 200km of cross-country ski trails in the beautiful landscape of the Engadin, of which Val Bregaglia is a part. In fact the region is renowned for this sport, and skiers competing in the popular annual 42km Engadin ski marathon – now preparing for its 50th edition – set off from Maloja, in the north-eastern end of the Val Bregaglia. Get yourself in training by picking up a day pass for just eight francs and testing your ability on the pristine trails.
Maloja is also the ideal starting point for a snow-shoe hike. Go out on your own or join a guided hike through the Val Bregaglia – excursions are offered both in the day and at night under the light of a full moon.
It’s paradise for art lovers
The famous Swiss sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti was born in Stampa, in the Val Bregaglia, and the valley makes the most of its connection to this famous family. You can visit the studio that belonged to Alberto’s artist father, Giovanni, in Stampa; see Alberto’s tomb in nearby Borgonovo; and download a smartphone app to learn more about the talented family on the Giacometti Art Walk.
Not only that, but nearby Maloja was for many years the home and workplace of Swiss painter Giovanni Segantini, where visitors can see his workshop, his home and the cemetery where he’s buried.
It’s chestnut heaven
The Val Bregaglia has plenty of local specialities for tourists to tuck into: cow and goat milk cheese, cured meats, award-winning honey. But chestnuts are what the area is best known for, because the valley boasts the largest forest of sweet chestnut trees in Europe. Try chestnut jam, chestnut cake, chestnut schnapps, and even pasta and gnocchi made from chestnut flour.
It’s simply beautiful
Soglio. Photo: Andreas Gerth/Swiss Tourism
Traditional Engadin stone houses with intricate sgraffito (etchings), 14th century churches and monuments including the beautiful White Church in Maloja… Val Bregaglia is a stunning place to spend a few days. See if you agree with Segantini, who said the village of Soglio was “on the threshold of paradise”.