il Passo Spluga
la Ca’ de la Montagna
The very particular location of Valle Spluga has historically been associated with movement going right back to the prehistoric age.
Periods which relied entirely on natural routes, freed up from the persistence of stubborn glacial “tongues” thanks to a gradual increase in the mean temperature of the planet, meant the passage of man to and fro across the Alpine chain became much more feasible. And attractive.
Cultural diversity of the different peoples and the economic areas on both sides of the Alps, were clearly no barrier to the inhabitants making good use of the Alpine routes. The importance and thus fortune which some ancient tracks had, in respect to other Alpine passes, was essentially determined by commercial interests – a combination of economics and military-strategic factors. Ancient Roman and medieval routes had already incorporated the Spluga Pass, heading towards the Upper Rhine and Chur to reach the influential territories of the Danube.
With the technological evolution of transport methods alongside the construction of carriageways in the 19th century, much of the network of the ancient trails had been abandoned. The current thoroughfare, leading up to the Pass from Chiavenna was built between 1818 and 1822 by the Austrian authorities of the Regno Lombardo Veneto, which, following the Congress of Vienna, had assumed overall control of the region in 1815. From that time onwards the road has undergone a number of reforms, sometimes crucial following huge floods which certainly tested its character. The construction of the reservoir at Montespluga completed in 1931, shifted matters in relation to the new lake, to the east. The road maintained its international significance up until the end of the ‘40’s when the postal service still functioned even in winter using horse and sleigh. Since the construction of the S. Gotthard tunnel, the strategic and economic importance of il passo Spluga inevitably diminished and evolved into more of a route for accessing destinations more closely tied with tourism.
The plain on which the village of Montspluga sits assumed the name “Piano della Casa” since at its northern tip sat the Ca’ de la Montagna, which had existed for centuries, a building which provided shelter for wayfarers and pack animals. The refuge corresponds precisely with the site of the current albergo “Vittoria”. As an anonymous 17th century commentator confirms “Men and horses alike might very often have lost their lives on this particular peak, were it not for this very shelter”. And here, during the frequent, raging snow blizzards, as in all modest Alpine lodgings, a bell would sound “to guide lost travellers and to call them towards a merciful refuge”. The stopover at the Ca’, which was later to take shape as a tavern, also represented an opportunity for an exchange of goods between the merchants of the Rhine valley and Valle Spluga. It was here too that the famous Lindau stagecoach would halt which from 1823 onwards linked Lake Constance to Milan.
Translation of Ray Ball – email@example.com