Late one afternoon when I arrived at Scuol-Tarasp station on my way back to my accommodation in Scuol, the bus to Ftan was waiting at the station bus stop. So I decided on the spur of the moment to jump aboard for a quick trip to Ftan. Ftan is a village of around 500 people, which lies on a mountainside terrace at an altitude of 1650 metres: 360 metres above the towns of Scuol and Tarasp. I just intended to stay for an hour, the length of time between buses.
It’s a very short trip (about 10 minutes). On leaving Scuol-Tarasp railway station, the bus immediately starts climbing up the mountain. There are amazing views to the south, encompassing the valley with towering mountains on the other side, which looked particularly beautiful with fresh snow on them. They are known as the Lower Engadine Dolomites, due to the presence of dolomite rock throughout the region. Tarasp Castle is the most prominent feature in the valley, perched on its outcrop.
Once in Ftan, I strolled around for a while, initially heading along a lane called “Rontsch”, which seemed to offer the best prospect for a view of the castle. However, houses lining the lane and overlooking the valley blocked most views into the valley. Apparently these houses were built by people who had been forced to leave Ftan for economic reasons, then later returned with wealth acquired through success in the confectionary trade. The houses on the other side of the lane are mostly original Engadiner houses, including "Haus Vulpius", dating from 1674.
I eventually found a spot with enough of a gap between houses to photograph the mountains, bedecked with snow from the previous day. There were also some patches of snow remaining in Ftan, whereas the snow had already melted down in Scuol.
The best views of Tarasp Castle are from the road on the way up to Ftan, particularly from the bus stop called “Baraigla”, where there is a seat overlooking the castle. The main attractions of Ftan itself seem to be walking, biking and winter sports, but there are also some noteworthy Engadiner houses. I have attached a map showing the location of the bus stop and of the most significant Engadiner houses in Ftan, as you are not likely to come across most of them by just following your nose!
-- No. 1 on the map shows the location of the bus stop "Ftan cumün" on the village square (called Plaz). Most of this part of the village has burnt down several times, so the houses around the square date from after the last fire in 1885, in which 46 houses were lost! Not all houses were rebuilt after the fires, which apparently accounts for the amount of vacant land in the village. The clock tower nearby belongs to the Reformed Church, which dates from 1634, but its onion dome dates from the last fire in 1885.
-- No. 2 on the map shows the location of Haus Vulpius, an Engadiner house (dating from 1674) in the lane called “Rontsch”. It has an external wooden staircase leading up to a first-floor entrance. As I was focussed on finding a viewpoint to photograph the mountains and Tarasp Castle, I forgot to go back to the far end of the lane to see and photograph this beautiful house :-( Anyone interested can see it on Google Street View though.
-- No. 3 indicates a lane called “Vichava”, where there are a good number of 17th century Engadiner houses with the typical sgraffito decoration, inscriptions and beautiful doors. I didn’t have time to get up there to see these, but they too can be seen on Google Street View.
There is also a 400-year old mill in Ftan (which I didn’t go to). It’s about a 15-minute walk out of the village: You start off in the lane called Rontsch, then when the houses end, take the left fork into the lane called Sainas. Opening hours are very limited, but you can see it from outside.
There are no public toilets (in Romansch: “Tualetta publica”) in Ftan as such, but many restaurants take part in a scheme that permits people to use the toilets in the restaurant without being expected to buy anything. They were nominated for a tourist award for this initiative! A downloadable PDF with details of participating restaurants in Ftan and other villages in the area can be found at the link below. There is a link at the top of the page to translate the page to English:
www.engadin.com/servic e/informationen/tualet ta-publica/?S=2&R=1
Some of my photos of Ftan and views of the valley and mountains are attached.
PS In several of the photos, a tree with red berries can be seen. I saw these beautiful trees in many places throughout Switzerland, mainly at higher altitudes I think. A bit of research on the internet suggests it is called a Rowan Tree. Is anyone able to confirm this?