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Surrounded by three and four-thousand-meter peaks, the Engadin in the Swiss canton of Graubünden retains its originality in numerous places. To discover them, you should be good on foot.
The view into the Upper Engadine from the hotel "Muottas Muragl". In the foreground you can see St. Moritz on the lake of the same name, behind it the Silvaplaner and Silsersee lakes.
Erwin Badertscher stops in the middle of the Engadine mountain path. He puts his binoculars to his eyes and scans the area below the bare summits of the Engadine, which rise around him. He's on the lookout for bearded vultures, golden eagles, ibex, or at least a marmot, he says. But the animals can not be seen. And at least the rodents can be understood well: "An eagle pair with a boy eats 70 marmots per summer," he explains.
Marmots are also rare in the EngadineErwin Badertscher has been working as a tour guide in the Swiss National Park in the Engadine for four years. Founded in 1914, this is not only the country's first national park, but also the oldest in the Alps. The editions are strict: no hunting, no livestock. It spreads over 170 square kilometers in a side valley of the Engadin, the border with Italy is not far away. The neighbors ache a warm climate, which is why the tree line in the park is about 500 meters higher than in the rest of the Engadine, explains Badertscher. The mountain pines stand side by side in airy air, old and young united in quiet unity: Because the forest is left to itself, dead wood also remains around for about 100 years. If the old tribes eventually die, they will need another 100 years to rot. Meanwhile, a lot of light reaches the densely covered with grass and herbs forest soil - the own rejuvenation succeeds the pine thus magnificent.
The old butcher of Pila is a celebrity in the valley
Renato Giovanoli is a celebrity in the EngadineThe Engadin characterizes the contrasts: to the east is the National Park, in the middle of which is St. Moritz, with its glamorous and sophisticated crowd of guests and its famous hotels. And just a few kilometers to the southwest, at the end of the Engadin, above Maloja, the hamlet of Pila can be discovered. It is the realm of Renato Giovanoli. About his built of rough natural stones houses, some of which were built in the 17th century, the young Inn falls to the valley. Young cattle graze in the meadows, a friendly farmer has retired at Giovanoli for the summer. Pila is a place where the world passed, seemingly without discovering it.
Seemingly! Because Renato Giovanoli is an Engadine celebrity. Because he looks high up in the mountains with his white mane, thick beard and sun-tanned skin after the rough life - after a lifetime in another time. But also because hardly anyone makes such good "Salsiz" as he does. The butcher uses pork or beef for this Graubünden sausage specialty, which he smokes cold and then squeezes. But he lays the sausages between thick boards, which he in turn complains with weights: "So that the air goes out, they are better conserved," he explains. Finally, he hangs up the sausage in one of his stone houses to dry. The air at almost 1,900 vertical meters makes it very dry, a characteristic sign of this specialty.
Many hiking trails in the Engadine score through the magnificent viewOnly a few houses more than Pila counts the village Isola, it is located on a small peninsula in Lake Sils. Those who do not have a special permit, can only reach the place in the Engadine on foot or by bike. The path winds along the lakeshore, from Maloja you can walk no more than one hour. You do not have to climb far up an adjoining mountain slope to see the whole village with its ancient stone houses and haystacks. The only road through the village is not paved and whirls up a lot of dust under the sun. What does not diminish the enjoyment in the "Ristorante Lagrev", it is the only inn in Isola. On the terrace, the view sweeps across the lake to the mountains of the Engadine, distracted only by the homemade polenta that they serve here.
Already more than a hundred years ago, they attracted celebrities such as Friedrich Nietzsche or the poet Marcel Proust to the Engadine. The latter did not hold it there, however, in the summer of 1893 he climbed the Bernina Pass and marched on to Alp Grüm at the foot of the ever-white Piz Palü. Later he wrote about this trip: "But when we reached the summit, we stood as if blinded. [...] Glaciers shimmered to our side. Raging mountain brooks criss-crossed a wild Engadin landscape of dark green at our feet. "The dark green slowly gives way to a glowing hue:" In the autumn it is also beautiful in the Engadine when the larch needles slowly turn golden. "This sentence was written by Erwin Badertscher. At the end of the day, no bearded vulture, golden eagle, ibex or groundhog were seen.Nevertheless, the excursion leader says goodbye with a straight thumb and a big smile. Because he knows, they are in good hands in their huge national park, where a particularly beautiful piece of Engadine for future generations is preserved.