The chestnut nature trail near Castasegna brings us closer to the fruit

In the Val Bregaglia, people lived from the bread of trees - chestnuts - until the end of the 17th century. The largest chestnut forest in Europe is located near Castasegna. The nut fruits were used as a staple food, because grain grew rather sparsely at altitude. In the "cascine", the small smokehouses, they are dried and can then be processed into flour.

It is 21 kilometres from the Maloja Pass to the border at Castasegna. The Bergell (Val Bregaglia) is one of the Italian-speaking southern valleys of the canton of Graubünden and a refuge for artists: Alberto Giacometti was born here, Giovanni Segantini and Varlin (Willy Guggenheim) were obviously inspired by the special panorama. The Bergell Alps are indeed impressive, the rocky crags "Badile Nordkante" or the "Fiamma" - climbers go into raptures at the sight of this "cathedral of granite".

Near Castasegna, not far from the border with Italy, a footpath leads through the largest chestnut forest in Europe. Since the chestnut was brought to the valley by the Romans around 2000 years ago, the culture and history of Castasegna have been inextricably linked with the coveted, shiny brown fruit. "Brentan" is the name of the sunny spot above the village, in the direction of Soglio.

The themed hike (percorso didattico del castagneto) first leads up a slight incline to the "cascine", the small stone houses where the chestnuts are dried. Visitors can have this special process explained in more detail in a show hut. Information boards along the path provide information about the refinement, variety, cultivation and processing of the Bergell sweet chestnuts and provide interesting insights into the fauna and flora of the region. It is worth walking the path slowly and always looking upwards, because the towering, twisted crowns of the mighty chestnut trees branch out into huge columned halls that resemble architectural masterpieces.

In autumn, when the leaves start to change colour and the chestnuts fall to the ground, but also in spring, when the chestnut trees are in full bloom, the excursion to Castasegna has a very special charm. And by the way: at the end, you can't miss a piece of chestnut cake at Café Pasticceria Salis.

Realised by Roland Baumgartner

Pictures: Bregaglia Engadin Turismo


Hourly post bus connection from St. Moritz to Bergell in Castasegna, on foot to the chestnut grove above the village.

Another tip:
Via Bregaglia and Via Panoramica - various daily stages from Maloja to Chiavenna.