364 Route 89. CASTASEGNA. From Chiavenna
tion, the sole exception being the well constructed high-road itself. No sooner,
however, is the Swiss frontier crossed, than the contrast becomes most
marked ; the roads are good and the houses well built. In the Bregaglia
alone are purely Italian communities to be found professing the Reformed
faith (at Poschiavo, p. 343, mixed). Many of the inhabitants (1638 in num¬
ber), like those of the Engadine, seek their fortunes in foreign lands.
At Chiavenna the road diverges to the E., and ascends the
course of the Maira. On the road, l'/2 M.. from Chiavenna, is a
picturesque waterfall, the two arms of the stream forming a double
cascade; l'/2 M. beyond are two small villages, designated as
'Del comune di Piuro'.
Opposite, on the 1. hank of the Maira, formerly stood the wealthy and
flourishing town of Plurs (Piuro) with 2430 inhab., and surrounded by
numerous country-residences. This town was entirely destroyed by a land¬
slip in 1618. For several days previously to the catastrophe, masses of rock
had become detached from the slopes of Monte Conto, and numerous fissures
were observed to form and widen in the mountain. The inhabitants,
however, disregarded these admonitory phenomena, and were buried, together
with all their possessions, by a mass of earth and rock 60' in thickness, all
attempts to penetrate which proved fruitless. Every trace of the town has
disappeared, and the mass of debris is now clothed with a luxuriant forest
of chestnuts. The name of the town still survives in that of the little
village of Plurs, where a traffic is carried on in articles manufactured of
a soft kind of stone (talc, lapis ollaris), mentioned by Pliny under the
name of 'Lapis Comensis'.
The road remains on the r. bank of the Maira, and passes
through Villa, or Villa di Chiavenna. Immediately below Casta-
segna, the stream forms the boundary between Italy and Switzer¬
land. Castasegna (2329') (*Schuhmacher's restaurant; Albergo
della Liberia), 6 M. from Chiavenna, is on the Swiss frontier.
The name of this closel yhuilt but pleasing village indicates that
its principal resources are derived from its chestnut-trees. The
silkworm and white mulberry continue to flourish here , and as
far N. as Bondo.
Pleasant walk through a beautiful chestnut wood, passing the water¬
fall of the Acqua di Sioll, to Soglio (3569') (*Giovanoli), a village with 406
inhab., 1 hr. N.E. of Castasegna, the site of the deserted palaces and gar¬
dens of the Salis-Soglio family. In a garden here the pinus cembra, or
'Alpine cedar' (p. 324), is seen in strange juxtaposition with the chestnut.
Fine view of the Bondasca Glacier. Descent to Promontogno, see below.
Spino, a group of houses on the road below Soglio, and 1 M.
above Castasegna, possesses a brewery (good beer). Opposite,
near Bondo, where the impetuous Bondasca falls into the Maira,
stands a chateau erected by the Counts of Salis in 1770. For
three whole months the sun does not shine on Bondo. Rho¬
dodendrons and chestnuts flourish here side by side. The latter
do not occur beyond this limit, and the walnut ceases near
Stampa. Fine view of the upper Val Bondasca, with the Piz
dell' Acqua and the Piz di Caccia Bella.
Attractive excursion to the Bondasca Glacier (3 hrs.), of which a
good survey is obtained from the last chalet, reached by ascending the
slope to the 1. before the moraine. The view is still finer from the cholels
of Sass Fura (11024', guide desirable), situated high up on the slope of the
Cima di Tschingel, on the S. side of the valley.