A journey on the Bernina Express through the canton of Graubünden will bank a lifetime of memories and you’ll be recounting the rare beauty that you experienced on the winding route between Valposchiavo and the Engadin Valley for eternity. Within 2 km of pulling out from the station in Tirano, you’ll cross the border into Switzerland and discover a wealth of awe-inspiring cultural and environmental wonders.
The spiral viaduct in Brusio
A lesson in ingenious engineering that achieves top marks for both form and function: thanks to its spiral construction, this viaduct gains significant elevation within a very small space.
The main town within the eponymous valley, Poschiavo owes its charm not only to the natural beauty that surrounds it, but also to the enchanting little lanes in its historic centre, lined with museums and ancient villas, including a number built in a renaissance style during the second half of the nineteenth century by local emigrants – particularly pastry chefs – who’d made their fortune abroad but still felt close ties to their roots.
A small hamlet tucked into a beautiful natural basin. Throughout summer, take a short stroll from Cavaglia train station to the Glacier Garden to admire the glacial mills. Also referred to as Giants’ Pots, these are huge holes up to 10 metres deep that were ground into the earth after the retreat of the glacier about 11,000 years ago.
A lovely station built in 1923, Alp Grüm is at the centre of a jaw-dropping landscape that stretches from the Palù glacier to the lake of the same name, and from the flats of Cavaglia to the Orobie Alps over in Italy. The stunning spot is topped off with a restaurant and hotel housed inside the station.
The linguistic border between the cultures of Valposchiavo and the Engadin Valley, Ospizio Bernina sits proudly at 2,253 metres above sea level, making it the highest station on the railway line.
Lago Bianco and Ley Nair (Lago Nero)
At the same elevation as the Ospizio Bernina station and in the shadow of the Piz Cambrena glacier, you’ll come across the continental drainage divide, with water running south to the Adriatic through the River Adda and then the Po, and northwards from the Passo del Bernina into the River Inn, then the Danube before the joining the Black Sea.
Once you’ve swept around the Montebello curve and taken in the impressive view of the Bernina Range – a sight that’s dominated by the 4,000 metre-plus Piz Bernina – you’ll arrive at the station of Morteratsch, named after the glacier, which is the biggest in the Rhaetian Alps. Make time for a gorgeous walk up to the base of the glacier, observing the info boards along the route that have been tracking the glacier’s movement since 1900.
At the foot of the Bernina massif and resplendent amongst swiss stone pine trees and larch forests, Pontresina has been a sought-after holiday destination since the mid-1800s. Famed for its mountaineering exploits, which are well-documented in the interesting Alpine Museum, this little town is a hit with nature lovers and filled with typical residential homes built in the Engadin style. It serves as a great base for hikes or strolls.
More than just glitz and glamour, it’s understandable how St Moritz is one of the world’s most well-known tourist destinations. Sat on the banks of Lake St Moritz, it is blessed with a temperate climate and a heritage with tourism that goes back to Roman times when its thermal springs were first discovered, and people wanted in on the wellness hype. In 1864, it also lit the first spark for winter tourism. These days, other than laying out countless opportunities for locals and tourists to partake in sports and outdoor activities all year round, you can indulge in gourmet cuisine and attend international events.
Frequently plundered over the centuries, there is little remaining of Grosotto’s ancient medieval village, but these days it is a lively little town.
Via Patrioti is particularly worth exploring, where you’ll find the old rectory and can admire the typical use of stone on the entranceway with ornate decorations of angels, flowers
Geographically speaking, the predominantly agricultural village of Lovero touches on both sides of the valley, making for a picturesque, varied landscape with Alpine pastures and traditional cabins known as maggenghi on the side towards Valcamonica, and the other on the slopes on Monte Masuccio.
Much of Lovero’s charm lies
Sitting above the valley floor in somewhat of a sun trap, the small town of Sernio is split into four neighbourhoods: Valchiosa, Di Sotto, Piazza and Biolo. The houses, immersed in the greenery of the local orchards, are looked over by the tall, imposing sight of the Parish Church of Santi Cosma and Damiano. Built in 1477
Tirano has a lot going on in terms of its geography. After all, it’s where Switzerland and Italy meet, where the Aprica and Bernina passes merge, and on the road connecting Milan with the upper part of Valtellina. For a dose of ancient history, quaint old town charm and appealing views of centuries-old buildings, Tirano’s wealth of churches