The waterfalls known as Acquafraggia, situated in Piuro, Valchiavenna have as their source the ‘pizzo Lago’ or ‘Lake at the Peak’ located at a height of 3050 metres, forming the watershed between the North Sea and the Mediterranean. A torrent bearing the same name issues from the lake. ‘Pizzo Lago’ was created within a broad hanging basin formed by an ancient glacial circle, and the torrent descends 1800 metres over five kilometres incorporating a number of cliffs and therefore ‘falls’. It is from this that the latin-based name has its origin (aqua fracta, hence acqua “spezzata” or water “split” by waterfalls). The final long ‘drop’ creates the double waterfall, much-admired from the valley bottom, adjacent to the community of Borgonuovo di Piuro, where the torrent feeds into the River Mera.
A particularly rare fern (Pteris cretica) grows in the special conditions created by constant water atomisation. It is actually the most northerly location where the fern can be found.
When Leonardo da Vinci, engineer for the Dukes of Milan in the last decade of the 15th century covered the length of the valley of the Mera, he didn’t fail to note in his ‘Codice atlantico’ (a record of his journey) the beautiful water cascades or “le belle chadute d’aqua”. Centuries later the historian Cesare Cantù counted the “Acquafraggia” among the most beautiful of Alpine waterfalls.
In 1984 the waterfalls were declared a natural monument by the Region of Lombardy.
WITHIN THE CENTRAL AREA The Natural Monument represented by the “Acquafraggia” falls is an open invitation for you to enjoy a fascinating exhibition of nature itself within this still-wild corner in the heart of Italian Bregaglia.
An informed walk through the interior of the national park is an opportunity to see at first hand the natural environment surrounding the falls with its luxuriant vegetation and dark rocks, and to appreciate the panorama of the entire valley down towards Chiavenna at the bottom, from the viewing terraces running the length of the path. A range of walking routes have the Acquafraggia waterfalls as their departure point. The most important one is the characteristic mule-track which rises to the ancient village of Savogno by way of gentle twists and turns. The village can be reached by following a number of different well-trodden paths known as “sentiero di Pigión”, the one from S. Abbondio rises diagonally until it joins up with the mule-path, and another from Villa di Chiavenna follows a route half-way up the Bregaglia valley-side among woods of chestnut and birch.
At Savogno there is a welcoming refuge (rifugio), a base for people heading off towards the nearby village of Dasile and to reach the summer pastures of Corbia and the ‘lago dell’Acquafraggia’, (the lake). The higher routes involve tackling overhanging Alpine passes taking you to destinations such as Avero and the Valle di Lei.
Savogno is an important stage along the historic hiking routes of Val Bregaglia which meander between Italy and Switzerland, leaving from Chiavenna and arriving at the Maloja pass.
SAVOGNO (m 932) The most notable development began during the 15th century, when the summer grazing pastures and the transit areas towards Val di Lei began to be permanently inhabited.
Savogno is one of the most interesting centres of architecture of a spontaneous or improvised nature, characterised by the development of houses of considerable height, not surprising given the scarcity of available space, and making use of the only available building materials to be found: stone and wood. The vertical nature of the buildings, following the natural terracing, is relieved by a series of wide interfacing galleries and by additional structures made totally in wood. The houses present a picture of both unity and harmony, and bear witness to a rather special building expertise.
About half-way between Borgonuovo and Savogno on the slope which until some tens of years ago had been worked for vines and pasture lands, you come across cowsheds typical of this area, with a stone base and the rest wooden, all in line as though on parade, and all more or less at the same height. Within one of them an ancient wine-press, the communal property of local wine-growers, has been conserved. Along the path between Borgonuovo and the cowsheds you come across a typical huge sixteenth century fountain, made on the spot from stone, and wonderfully positioned for the panoramic views.
Across the bridge over the Acquafraggia torrent, and towards the West, you find Dasile, it too is in a fine position for its panoramic views. The houses are all gathered around the little church of San Giovanni Battista, built in 1689 thanks to the generosity of emigrants to Venice, where they had become “i luganegheri” - “the sausage-makers”; that is they had little roadside shops where they sold pork sausages, tiny morsels of meat, hard-boiled eggs, chestnuts, and soup to the poor.