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View of Bergell from the Malojapass
At Casaccia towards Italy
At Promontogno

The Bergell (in Bergell dialect Val Bargaia, Italian Val Bregaglia, Rhaeto-Romanic Val Bregaglia ? / I ) is the valley of the upper Mera (in the Bergell dialect Maira ) between the Malojapass ( 1812  m above sea level ) and Chiavenna (333 m). Audio file / audio sample

The upper and larger part of the valley forms the municipality of Bregaglia and is located in the Swiss canton of Graubünden , the lower part consists of the municipalities of Piuro and Chiavenna and belongs to the Italian province of Sondrio .

The name Bergell is derived from the Latin Praegallia «Vorgallien».


Via Bregaglia plaque

Sometimes only the Swiss part of the valley is called Bergell and the Italian part is part of the Val Chiavenna .

The valley descends in three stages from the Malojapass: first to the plain of Casaccia , which also provides access to the Septimerpass , then to the valley floor of Vicosoprano and Stampa . Below Stampa is the fortified Talenge Porta, which divides the valley into the two sections Sopraporta and Sottoporta . The village of Soglio is located on a terrace north of the Sottoporta .

The upper section, the Sopraporta , is still characterized by alpine larches . The Sottoporta already belongs to the insubric zone ; here you can find chestnut forests and a few palm trees .

The Bergell is cut deeply between the Bergell Alps in the south and the Rhaetian Alps in the north. The showpieces are the Bergell Alps and there in particular the three-thousand-meter peaks above Val Bondasca ( Piz Badile , Piz Cengalo , Gemelli and Sciora ), but also the group of Piz Bacun rising further to the east .

Three side valleys flow from the Bergell Alps into the Bergell from the south: Val Forno , Val da l'Albigna and Val Bondasca .

Villages and communities in Bergell




power supply

In the Albigna valley, the Albignasee is blocked by a dam , which uses the second valley level to generate electricity. The power supply concession is owned by the power station of the city of Zurich (EWZ), operator of the power stations Löbbia , Bondo and Castasegna . The EWZ wants to expand the Castasegna – Vicosoprano and Vicosoprano – Tinizong pipelines from 220 kV to 380 kV.


The Bergell dialect, the «Bargaiot», is a dialect of Lombard , but is very similar to the Rhaeto-Romanic as it is spoken in the neighboring Upper Engadin . Within the Bergell, Sopraporta , Sottoporta and Soglio each have their own sub-dialect.

The fact that Italian was chosen as the official language in the 16th century can be attributed to the northern Italian religious refugees who introduced the Reformation in Bergell and preached in Italian. Pietro Paolo Vergerio in particular is considered to be the reformer of Bergell .


There is evidence of a prehistoric hilltop settlement in the Bergell. The Bergell came already around 100 BC. Under Roman rule and is passed down as Bergale in 46 AD . It was initially assigned to the prefecture of Como , after 350 it was incorporated into the province of Raetia Prima . In the 4th century, Christianization took place by Gaudentius , who found protection from the Arians in Bergell . The church of San Gaudenzio above Casaccia was dedicated to him. A late Roman watchtower and an altar of Mercury were on the Crep da Caslacc above Vicosoprano. In Castelmur a Roman station called was Murus excavated, also coins, fragments road and a road ramp Malögin were discovered along the way over the Septimerpass.

In 488 the Bergell came under Ostrogothic rule, 568 under that of the Longobards and in 803 under the Como county. In the time of the Carolingian division of the empire , around 840, the Bergell formed the Churrätische Ministry Bregallia, the Loverobach was the southern border of Churrätien. In 960 King Otto I gave Bergell to the Bishop of Chur , who thereby gained control of the Septimerpass and the Julierpass . At that time Bergell was a valley community with extensive freedom rights. The state expansion had already advanced around 1100. The transport industry and the chestnut industry were of economic importance. The opening of the Gotthard route affected the transport industry and resulted in a shift to agriculture. The plateau around Maloja , the alpine pastures in the Avers and in Val Madris have been developed. The landowners were the ministerial families of Salis , Planta , Prevost, Castelmur, Stampa and the Bishop of Chur. The Castelmur fortification was built against Como, which had occupied the lower porta around 1219.

In 1367 the Bergell joined the Church of God as a high court . The bishop of Chur kept the customs and the army tax and chose the Podestà , the governor, from a three-man proposal. In 1387 he had a paved road built from Tinizong over the Septimerpass to Plurs . In 1474 Unterporta received its own penance court, in 1489 a limited civil court. In Obporta, the upper part, the four squadren San Cassiano, Piazza / Vicosoprano, Coltura and Borgonovo as well as the semi-autonomous Settima Casaccia were formed. In Unterporta, the lower part, there were the Terzieri Castasegna, Soglio and Bondo. From 1496 onwards, the Podestà was elected by eight electors and an official notary from Unter- and Obporta. The entire valley was subordinate to a single pastor elected by the Chur bishop, who resided in the main church of Nossa Donna Castelmur in the Castelmur castle . Around 1520 there were nine priests in the valley, each of whom was supported by a chaplain who looked after the community.

In 1524 the three leagues merged to form the Free State, and Bergell was freed from all episcopal feudal rights in 1526. In 1535 a new order regulated the judiciary: the criminal court for the entire valley now met in Vicosoprano, the civil court for Unterporta in Soglio. With the introduction of the Reformation in the Obporta, the Bishop of Chur also lost his church rights from 1532. Italian "heretics" who had escaped the Inquisition brought Reformation ideas into the valley. The first reformer in Bergell was Bartolomeo Maturo , former prior of the Dominican monastery of Cremona . His work was not yet a resounding success. In 1546, Italian was made an official language, which promoted political independence. In 1550 the former Catholic Bishop of Koper Pier Paolo Vergerio came and became a Reformed pastor in Vicosoprano. With his sermons he promoted and consolidated the new, evangelical faith among the valley dwellers. He moved on to Tübingen as early as 1553 in order to take on a larger field of activity as a diplomat with the Duke of Württemberg . In 1552 the Reformation was also introduced in the lower Bergell, here too evangelical religious refugees from Italy who had to leave their country played a key role.

On September 4, 1618, a severe landslide occurred in the lower Bergell . As a result of undercutting by soapstone mining, large rock masses detached themselves from Monte Conto , which buried the small town of Piuro (Plurs), at that time the wealthiest place in Graubünden, together with the uphill district of Scilano (Schilan) under rubble. The commissioner of Chiavenna, Fortunat spokesman , names 930 victims in his second report to the Graubünden government in Chur. Spokesman's contemporary, the historian Benedetto Parravicini, increased the estimated number by 300 to 1200 in total.

Counter-Reformation attempts by the Dominicans and Jesuits under the protection of the Salis family were unsuccessful, as were those of the Capuchins in 1622 under the protection of papal troops. The valley population experienced times of need during the turmoil in Graubünden , when it was devastated by Spanish troops in 1621.

With the loss of the Valtellina in 1798, the Swiss part of the Bergell became a peripheral region for Graubünden and Italian became a minority language.

In 1827/1828 the road over the Malojapass was built, which in 1834–1840 led to the abandonment of the mule path over the Septimerpass.

The former Bergell High Court has been a district of the Maloja district since 1851. In 1803 the Swiss Bergell still had 2,170 inhabitants, since then it has suffered a strong migration, in 1990 there were still 1,434 inhabitants. The formative mountain agriculture also lost its importance, the use of hydropower and tourism brought money and new jobs to the mountain valley.

Until 2009, the Swiss Bergell consisted of the municipalities Bondo , Castasegna , Soglio , Stampa and Vicosoprano , which then merged to form the municipality of Bregaglia . The Bregaglia district of Bergell , of which it was the only municipality, was dissolved in 2015. The Bergell has been part of the Maloja region since 2016 .

On August 23, 2017, the Val Bondasca, a side valley, suffered the worst landslide in Graubünden in decades, claiming eight lives.

Art, culture and tourism

Near Promontogno is the church of Nossa Donna Castelmur , where the barons of Castelmur were buried. In the church of San Martino in Bondo you can see frescoes from the 15th century. There are other Reformed churches in Castasegna, Vicosoprano and Soglio.

The Bergell became famous through the Italian painter Giovanni Segantini and the artist family Giacometti from Stampa. In the churches of Borgonovo and Coltura there are works by the artist Augusto Giacometti . The artist Elvezia Michel-Baldini also worked in Bergell. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke lived in Soglio, among others.

The Palazzo Castelmur is one of the landmarks of the Bergell. The building goes back to Baron Giovanni von Castelmur , who comes from one of the oldest families in Bergell, but who bought his money as a merchant in France and his title of nobility there as well. Today the Palazo belongs to the community of Stampa and is open to the public as a museum. On the top floor there is an exhibition about the history of gingerbread migration from the Bergell and Engadin, for example, has been (that we know of Erich Kastner's Emil and the Detectives) by migrants from Sils Maria founded the famous café josty in Berlin. The historical archive of Bergell, which is maintained by the Società culturale di Bregaglia and is also available online, is also housed in the Palazzo: many photographs have been digitized.

The Bregaglia Quartet was founded in 2004 on the occasion of the Bergell Music Days (Italian Incontro musicale Bregaglia ) in Vicosoprano, under the artistic direction of Christian Sikorski from the Stuttgart University of Music.

Marked hiking trails of the Via Bregaglia lead through the Bergell .

The mountain range south of Bergell is particularly popular with climbers , with the Fiamma as its landmark.

The radio show Voci del Grigione italiano reports on events and topics from the Bergell region .


About the dialect

  • Luigi Giacometti: Dizionario del dialetto bregagliotto. Variant of Sopraporta. Traduzioni in italiano, romancio, tedesco. Edizioni Casagrande, Bellinzona 2012.
  • Marco Ranzoni (ed.): Repertorio del dialetto bregagliotto a partire dai termini in italiano e in tedesco. Edizioni Casagrande, Bellinzona 2015.

Web links

Commons : Bergell Tal  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Berthold W. Haerter: On the trail of the Reformation through Bergell in connection with the Reformation anniversary and opportunities for community development. (PDF)
  2. Website bregaglia with the Kirchen des Bergell site ( Memento of the original from May 16, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. 450 years of the Reformation in Bergell. Article in the NZZ, August 8, 2002.
  4. ^ Simona Rauch: La Riforma in Bregaglia. Vicosoprano, October 5, 2014
  5. ^ Manfred Edwin Welti: Brief history of the Italian Reformation (= writings of the Association for Reformation History . Volume 193). Gütersloher Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn, Gütersloh 1985 (digitized 2006 University of Michigan), ISBN 978-3-5790-1663-4 , pp. 91-134: Das Exil.
  6. Rapporto del 26 agosto 1618 (5 September) di Fortunat spokesman al Governo di Coira (report from Fortunat spokesman for the government in Chur) and Descrizione dell'evento del 1629 e 1691. Associazione Italo-Svizzera per gli scavi di Piuro, accessed on August 22, 2018 (Italian).
  7. Antonio Colombo: Piuro Sepolta. L'Ariete, Milano 1969. SBN = IT \ ICCU \ SBL \ 0367969
  8. ^ Adolf Collenberg: Bergell. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  9. Website bregaglia with the churches of Bergell ( Memento of the original from May 16, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. Website of the "BERGELL_BLOG" (private page)
  11. Hikes in Bergell ( select Bregaglia Engadin from the list of regions )
  12. Climbing in Switzerland: Bergell, Fiamma, Graubünden

Coordinates: 46 ° 20 '  N , 9 ° 32'  E ; CH1903:  761,276  /  133479