The hills are alive at this time of year with the ritual mating call of stags, forming an impressive, powerful and vocal part of nature’s bold Autumn display. Colours change dramatically on a weekly basis to the delight of regular hikers along mountain paths; but there’s much more in nature’s armoury. There’s no doubting the impression made on anyone lucky enough to be out and about in very special parts of Valchiavenna or Valbregaglia, in the woods and clearings between Borgonuovo up to Corbia when the extraordinary courtship ceremony is performed by stags prior to the mating season. An
unforgettable experience in magnificent locations in this most intimate and emotion-stirring of seasons.
Our adventure in search of the love-struck stag sets off from Borgonuovo where we leave the car and head off towards the little hamlet of Sarlone from where a series of steps will take you steadily up in about an hour and a half to the village of Savogno directly above the Acqua Fraggia waterfalls at around 1000m. It’s certainly worth having a look round the streets of mainly wooden homes once occupied throughout the year. There’s also a welcoming refuge offering a traditional local menu. Then it’s upwards again to Dasile around 20 minutes walk to this tiny attractive village on a plateau, enjoying along the way some magnificent views of Valbregaglia down below with the surrounding mountain peaks topped by Badile defining the horizon. If you were taken by the meticulous order of planning and building that Savogno needed - having so little space - then you’ll be equally surprised by just how much open space there is at Dasile occupied only by a sprinkling of well-maintained mountain dwellings. You’re sure to succumb to a well-deserved break stretched out enjoying a snack. You’re on a natural terrace with Chiavenna and Piuro way down in the valley bottom, and villages in upper Valbregaglia on the Swiss side.
But let’s get on. To Corbia at around 1450m. After Dasile we re-take the path marked well in standard CAI red/white. A further hour’s walk will see us in the high Alpine pastures which dominate the entire valley below and where we stand a good chance of observing the deer’s ritual, particularly from the end of September and through the following month. The resounding cry of the stag is part of an ageold attempt to assert its position within the male
hierarchy. The roaring of each male is a response to others in nearby woods and pastures giving rise to a succession of booming sounds the intensity of which will identify the most powerful individual.