I have visited Soglio on the first day of 2020 and fell totally in love with this beautiful remote mountain village which is sitting in a beautiful valley which is leading to Italy.
I came to Soglio on purpose, because I read that painter Giovanni Segantini once said it was the most beautiful village in Switzerland. He said it is “La soglia del paradiso” – the gate to paradise. I like that the Italian word soglia and the village name Soglia are so similar. Giovanni Segantini spent a few winters in this peaceful village.
Let us explore this remote settlement together and look for things to do there.
I will discuss: how to get to Soglio, some facts about Soglio and what to do in this marvelous village.
One note: I have visited Soglio in the early morning so the lightning of pictures is pure, so don’t be discouraged, it actually looks much better.
How to Get to Soglio
Soglio is pretty isolated and very close to the border of Italy, but you can reach it easily with your car or by public transport.
Now, the trip with public transport will not be short: around 5 hours from Zürich and you will have to change multiple trains and buses. As I said, this is a remote place. But do not be discouraged, on the way to Soglio you are going to cross a lot of beautiful places, especially once you get into the Alps.
If you are taking this trip as a tourist to Switzerland, I would suggest buying a Swiss pass, this will save you a lot of money. You probably will need a 3-day Swiss pass as at least two days will be used to reach Soglio, enjoy it and then go back the next day.
If you go by car, it is much easier. From Zürich, you will need 3-4 hours. But as I mentioned before, once you get into the Alps, you will love the alpine drive. As well, you are going to cross the amazing Maloja Pass which I love a lot, especially in winter. Once you come to Soglio, there’s a parking lot right below the church, it will be easy to find and spot it. In the parking lot as well you will find a village map which helps you to wander around it.
Facts About Soglio
Soglio is in Graubünden canton in the Italian side of Switzerland, so the spoken language is Italian over there. Do not forget to greet locals with Buon Giorno!.
Soglio was first mentioned back in 1186 as de Solio. So the village is more than 800 years old, older than united Switzerland itself.
The population is not very big, just 167 people, but actually bigger than in other charming villages I have visited.
Soglio is sitting at an elevation of 1090 meters and one more interesting fact: it rains close to 1 in 3 days per year in Soglio. So take an umbrella just in case.
What to Do in Soglio
Ok, now despite its amazing location, Soglio is a small village with no museums, no big activities (unless you love hiking) and supermarkets.
The village has an amazing charming atmosphere with a small, snug and calm old town, beautiful old church, a couple of hotels and a restaurant. Oh, it has as well a tourism center and very nice public toilets. I am always impressed then such small places have nice public toilets – it shows me immediately how the locals take care of their own home.
I would like to suggest three things to do in Soglio:
- Explore the old town. For that, you would need up to 1 hour.
- Hiking hiking hiking. I would like to suggest at least 2 beautiful hikes. Up to a few hours, the sky is the limit if you feel like hiking even more.
- Visit Palazzo Salis.
- Have a delightful dinner in the local restaurant. 1-2 hours of delicious experience.
Explore the Soglio Old Town
Once you come to the Soglio, you will get this instant feeling that you traveled at least 100 years back, maybe even more.
Soglio has an almost untouched beautiful old town with narrow streets, old buildings, old cobblestones. First thing you must visit: is the village church. It is the dominant building in the village and you won’t miss it. It is right next to the parking lot.
The church was first documented back in 1354, the church got quite many “facelifts”, changes, expansions, renovations and took its final shape in 1735.
After you leave the church, go into the village center (on the left you will pass the tourism center).
At the end of the street, you are going to bump into Palazzo Salis. It is the old palace (which belonged to the Salis family, one of the richest in the region in the old times) now made into a hotel.
Once you reach the palace, I would take the turn to the right and explore the street there. Once I walked there, I even saw sheep in the barn resting. As you walk a bit more from the village to the meadows and a path which leads outside the village, you will get the 5-star view of the village: all houses, the church tower, and the mountains. From that point, it is easy to understand why Giovanni Segantini though it is the gates to paradise.
Afterward, come back to the old town and explore the other streets. All buildings are old and very well kept. You feel like walking through living history. I love it.
Depending on how much you like old town and sneaking around, you would spend up to 1 hour in Soglio old town.
Hiking in Soglio
Would you like to climb higher than 3 kilometers? Then I have a perfect hike for you. I must say, that this hike is not very easy, it is long and you are going to gain a lot of altitudes.
The hike is to Piz Gallagiun, the mountain peak straight on the border of Italy, and the height of it is 3107 meters.
Some information about the hike:
Time needed: back and forth 8 hours
Distance: 14 kilometers both ways
Altitude gain: almost 2 kilometers
Difficulty: it is a long hike, it will not be easy to make it all.
Things to take: extra jacket, extra pants (water-resistant is the best), good hiking shoes, at least 3-4 liters of water for each, plenty of snacks.
Best time to do it: summer
Let’s have a look at the map of this hike.
As you see, the hike goes up pretty steadily all the time, but it’s a long hike, so you should take it easy. You are going to gain a lot of altitudes.
Pretty much all the hike is in the beautiful nature you will have a view of Italy or Switzerland all the time.
I would rest at least a bit each hour and have a snack at least every other hour. This is going to be a long day, but the views from the top will make up for all the difficulties. The green rocky mountain peaks all around. It is a splendid place.
Look, if you don’t feel like doing all the hike up to the peak, you can always do a bit shorter hike. This hike is long and you kind of need all day for that. This hike is purely to conquer 3000 meters peak. And to gain 2000 meters – that’s a challenge itself. That is really a lot. So do not worry, no need to do it all. The beautiful views will follow you during the hike.
If you do this hike, take it slowly, have enough water and food.
One more very cool destination is Malinone: it is on the Italian side and much closer: 6 kilometers hike, just a bit over 1000 meters altitude gain.
I have found a very cool description of it in the Italian language, but here I put an English version. The description is about a hike from the Italian side.
“A hundred meters before the Swiss border, the long and beautiful mule track that leads to Malinone, the destination of our tour, begins. It is a walk of a certain commitment and which requires good training and a secure step, even if it is free of difficult or even uncomfortable points. The track, always wide and well-marked, has long sections of steps, obtained with huge slabs of gneiss, which alternate sectors of connection on meadows where you walk on a simple track of beaten earth. Certainly, this is a path for those who love the paths they “make”, that is, those walkways that without compromise lead only upwards. During the whole march, there is, we believe, only one flat meter. Each step pushes upwards, sometimes slightly, more often with decisive and endless rises that end only once they reach the ruined houses of Malinone.
As you go up your gaze opens more and more on the Val Bregaglia and offers spectacular views of the grandiose granite architecture of the Sciore, Badile, and Cengalo group. In the first part, the walk takes place not far from the borderline and in view of the small town of Soglio, one of the pearls of the Swiss Bergell. Along this interminable “way to the high alpine pastures”, perhaps more than elsewhere you can touch the sense of fatigue inextricably linked with the life of the mountaineer. Every meter was used to encourage the poor economy linked to agriculture and pastoralism, to make life that was conducted in these mountains as easy as possible. Particularly striking is the construction of the mule track, cleverly designed between leaded rocky walls and steep woods. Everywhere, the gaze discovers, on this apparently desolate and inhospitable side, small areas of grass where huts are located, often in incredible positions. At the top of the “staircase”, Malinone and Sciucco were the destinations of a route that knew several stages. The two rather large groups of huts are part of a system of mountain pastures which, more or less all at the same altitude, occupy the entire top right side of the Bergell.”
You can find more information about this place right here.
The palace of Salis is one of the oldest buildings not only in Soglio, but in this region as well.
The palace was built back in the 17th century and now serves as a hotel with 16 beautiful rooms for more than 100 years. It is in the list of Swiss Historic Hotels. And yes, you can actually feel the history beating in this palace.
Not only it has beautiful rooms with antique furniture, but you can find a fantastic restaurant and a very relaxing garden in the backyard. It is a great place not just to visit, but to spend a night as well.
You can find all the information about the restaurant, hotel and the history of this palace right here: Palazzo Salis.
Where to eat in Soglio
As many marketing people say, for a good restaurant you need 3 things: location, location, location. Soglio definitely has an exceptional location.
The restaurant is right at the beginning of the village, it is called: Stüa Granda. It has a hotel as well. The restaurant offers a really high end menu, so even if you have an exceptional taste – you will not be disappointed.
If you are lucky take a table with a view of the mountains: it is splendid.
You can have a look at the menu, the hotel offers, and all other information about the place right here: Stüa Granda.
Another place you can try is Palazzo Salis – it is a huge old building built back in the 17th century in the middle of the village. It is a hotel and as well a nice restaurant where you can actually feel like a duke in the old times. It has a very nice old-timey interior with a huge fireplaces and antique furniture.
La Soglina – it is a hotel with a restaurant as well. It offers great views to the mountains and is situated right in the beginning of the village.
Where to sleep in Soglio
As mentioned above, Soglio has three hotels with restaurants:
La Soglina – 3 star hotel.
Palazzo Salis – an amazing historical hotel.
Stüa Granda – a very fine hotel with renovated new rooms.
I personally loved Soglio village. My favorite part was wandering around the village, its narrow streets, looking into houses, old architecture, the mountains. It is all very very beautiful.
If you happen to in Ticino canton or close to Maloja Pass, you should really give this small paradise a chance.
If you have more time: take a hike or have lunch in the local restaurant. The time flows differently in Soglio.
If you would like to visit more of such small villages, I highly recommend Indemini village which I visited as well.
If you have any questions about Soglio, please let me know, I will do my best to help you.