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A Valley In Time

The last days I've been following the high border above Val Poschiavo, which is to say looking down on the little towns I was lucky to visit.

How peculiar it is that this place is Swiss, at least from the down-looking perspective. The valley is barely 15 kilometres long and even less than that wide. It only opens into Italy, down at Campocologno. Above you have to cross the famous Bernina pass to cross into the Engadine Valley, where they speak Swiss German and/or Romansh depending on the tiniest changes of distance. In Poschiavo they speak Italian.

So why is this Switzerland? Apparently during Napoleon's time - he who had such a huge effect on modernising Switzerland - there was a vote in Val Poschiavo and Valtellina on who wanted to be Swiss and who wanted to be Lombardian, or whatever the region's affiliation at the time in what is now Italy. Tirano and the rest of that valley chose one way, while the Poschiavo valley chose to be Swiss. The latter, at least, seem very content with their choice. So now there's a one-valley pocket of Switzerland extending like a finger into Italy. And I have the privilege of hiking above it with several days of high ridgelines. Speaking of which, it's snowing lightly and my fingers are cold. Better start walking to warm up again.

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