I’d already been to Savogno, but when Diego proposed the trip I didn’t mind going again. The village is awesome and the weather was expected to be so good and warm that I would’ve done a hike even by myself rather than spend Sunday in town.

Savogno is perched on a magnificent sunny ledge at over 900 m, overlooking the town of Chiavenna lying on the flat floor of its valley, and the entrance to the Bregaglia valley, leading up to the frontier with Switzerland and to Malojapass at 1815 m., 30 km upstream. This ancient village has been uninhabited since the 60’s when its once 400 strong population finished migrating to bigger centres in search of better comfort and living conditions. No road has ever been built to overcome the 600 m steep drop from below, so the only way to reach the village is climbing up an enchanting cobbled staircase that winds its way across the woods, once the trail of peasants and wayfarers heading to the Graubünden. Now the Italy-Switzerland trail plies the ancient merchant route and you can get over the stalwart Alps to reach destinations beyond these soaring granite bastions. Alternatively a more scenic route has been traced that repeatedly crosses the stream and the spectacular Acquafraggia waterfall.

As a result of its abandonment and its isolation, Savogno has maintained its pristine aspect, but has also been skilfully preserved from ruin thanks to a programme of renovation directed to upkeep its rural buildings and the church. The houses and the barns are built with the local materials, primarily wood and stone, and covered with slate roofs. The tiny cemetery is fenced off with a wall bearing inscriptions where the capital letters N and S are carved the wrong way round, maybe owing to the stonemason’s illiteracy. Outside the village remains of terraces bear witness to the traces of human colonisation on the mountain environment, but the long abandonment has caused the stones to tumble and allowed the trees to retake possession of the territory that was once encroached upon by man.

Savogno enjoys a lovely view over Piuro, the village that was overwhelmed by a catastrophic landslide in 1618, following a week of heavy rainfall that undermined a whole mountainside. Apart from its scenic beauty, the entire region has a deep historical interest as its boundaries were subject to shifts of power between the often warring neighbouring rulers. A landmark that still stands to remind us of this is Fuentes fort, built in the XVII century by the tough Spanish governor who was known for saying that the king ruled in Spain, and he in Milan. The fortress was intended to watch over a sensitive spot, in defence of the Spanish possessions threatened by the Graubünden league. Sadly enough, these fascinating ruins that stand on a knoll rising in the midst of the Pian di Spagna are remembered only in the name given to a nearby commercial centre.

Coming from a Saturday night multiple birthday party, I'd like to have made good use of a slice of roast meat to fill a sandwich for my lunch, but make the mistake to leave the packet on the piano. I was texted regarding my forgetfulness, but it was too late, so took some ham and celery instead!