>> Sils Maria was my favourite place ever, if I win the lottery, my holiday home will be there
I found an online TV program about Sils Maria and the Upper Engadin yesterday by chance, when looking for something else, and I wondered if you might enjoy watching it. I loved it myself!
It's called Unsere wilde Schweiz - Das Oberengadin. It's entirely in German without subtitles, but as you have some knowledge of German, you will probably be able to understand at least some of it, and there is plenty of stunning photography that speaks for itself anyway! Highlights are aerial shots of Soglio, the Maloja Pass and the mountains and lakes around Sils Maria. There is some nice footage of Steinböcke too.
The program is not aimed at tourists, but rather is a documentary about the landscape/geology, wildlife and wildflowers of the Upper Engadin, and some interesting people who make their livelihood there.
Some of the bits that I particularly enjoyed:
- A glaciologist called Felix Keller from the Academia Engiadina, who walks and bikes through amazing mountain landscapes and explains the forces that shaped the landscape, and its geology.
- The Lunghin Pass, which is apparently one of very few triple watersheds in the world: water from there flows three ways - into the North Sea, the Adriatic Sea and the Black Sea.
- The boat on the Silsersee between Sils and Maloja, run by Franco Giani and his daughter Francesca. He tells some interesting stories about his experiences on the lake, which is apparently not always as placid as it usually looks!
- A segment with a hiker and wildflower lover called Gian Clalüna, during which many different sorts of wildflowers are shown. He worked on an app called Flora Helvetica (wildflowers of Switzerland).
- The Silserkugeln, which are amazing balls of larch needles that are formed by the action of water and wind in the Silsersee in autumn, and held together by resin. There is apparently an old legend that the Waldleutchen, "little people of the forest", would save the local people from starvation after a flood by filling these balls with dried fruit, fish and eggs and sending them over the lake to Sils! When I googled Silserkugeln to find out more about them, I discovered that the Café Grond in Sils Maria makes a confectionery version of this local phenomenon from chocolate, marzipan and meringue! Definitely want to try one next time I am there! Here is a picture of the real Silserkugeln and the chocolate version:
- The chef from the Waldhaus Hotel in Sils Maria, Denis Brunner, goes gathering wild herbs in the meadows around Soglio, and there is some superb aerial photography of Soglio, accompanied by suitably stirring music!
- Felix Keller, the glaciologist from earlier in the program shows an extremely steep bridle path over the Maloja Pass that dates from Roman times, over which the Romans apparently drove their Gebirgswagen, mountain wagons. This segment is preceded by some magnificent aerial footage of the Maloja Pass road.
- A segment on Vreni Cadurisch, who farms Strahlenziegen - a rare breed of black-and-white-striped goats - in the car-free settlement of Isola on the remote far shore of the Silsersee, and makes Mascarpin goat-milk cheese. You can go there to buy their farm produce, and apparently that little boat on the Silsersee stops nearby. Vreni Cadurisch tells an interesting story about why they have a few cross-bred white goats in their otherwise pure-bred herd - when the herd is grazing on the rocky mountainside of the Fedoztal, the black-and-white goats blend into the landscape and can be hard to spot, but the white ones stand out, making it easier to see where the herd is!
- A segment about Schoggitaler, large chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil, that are sold each year all over Switzerland by school children, in order to raise money to support projects designed to protect the natural environment and cultural heritage of Switzerland. The Schoggitaler apparently had their origin here in Sils, as a means of raising money to prevent the construction of a hydro-electric power station on the Silsersee in the 1940s. The initial sale of Schoggitaler was such a resounding success that it has been repeated annually since then throughout Switzerland. In 2017, the funds raised will support a project to develop wildlife corridors. These will assist wildlife to move safely between their sleeping places, feeding grounds, summer and winter habitats and breeding grounds, due to many of their natural paths having been adversely affected by settlements, roads and railways.
- A musical performance on the Morteratsch Glacier by the glaciologist Felix Keller (seen earlier), with a picnic for the audience prepared by the chef from the Waldhaus Hotel, which he brings in by helicopter! I gather this was designed to publicise the devastating effect of climate change on the Morteratsch Glacier, which is apparently losing 40-50 million tons of ice every year.
If you find the time to watch this documentary, and enjoy it, there are three other documentaries in the series, including the Aletsch Glacier and the Verzasca Valley. In my experience, these TV shows are often only available online for a week or so before being replaced by other things. Here are the links:
Upper Engadin: Unsere wilde Schweiz - Das Oberengadin
Verzasca Valley: Unsere wilde Schweiz - Das Verzascatal
Aletsch Glacier: Unsere wilde Schweiz - Der Aletschgletscher
The Vanil Noir: Unsere wilde Schweiz - Das Vanil Noir
(a mountain located on the border between the cantons of Fribourg and Vaud, which I have never heard of before)
I haven't watched any of the others yet, but hope to find time in the next couple of days to do so!