Between winter and spring in Val Müstair
We started out early on Good Friday as the weather forecast had predicted that Friday could possibly be the warmest and sunniest day of the holiday weekend. As soon as we checked into our Swiss Historic Hotel, we were out the door again to hike from Santa Maria to Müstair to visit the Convent of St. John, which in 1983 became a UNESCO World Heritage site. The frescos are fabulous and we also visited the very informative museum about life in the convent. Spring greens were just poking through and the larches had bits of green needles and bright burgundy baby pine cones which were soft to the touch. The trail wound through the forest and before long we saw the tower of the abbey.
Probably established around 780, the abbey boasts paintings and frescos from around 800 and 1160, the latter which actually covered the ones painted earlier. Several were uncovered during restoration in the 20th century.
The museum concentrated more on the life within the abbey.
Afterwards we walked back to Santa Maria on the other side of the valley.
The next morning it was already a bit cooler and we decided to head to Merano in search of sun and warmth. We didn't spend much time in town which was bursting with busy shoppers and tourists. Instead we took the bus to the beautiful gardens at Trauttmansdorff and spent the day amidst the flowers and enjoying an apple strudel overlooking the pond. The wisteria swayed in the breeze and filled the air with a sweet perfume, there were many, many tulips and the first of the tree peonies and roses were in bloom.
It kept getting colder and there was a new dusting of snow on the mountains when we woke up Sunday morning. We took the bus up to the Ofenpass to hike back down to Santa Maria via Lü. It was a beautiful hike and we were the only ones on the trail.
We stayed at the Swiss Historic Hotel Ritterhaus Casa de Capol in Santa Maria / Val Müstair where we spent a fair amount of time in front of the crackling fire drinking spirits such as a schnapps made from the Swiss stone pine and listening to the interesting stories our host, who is quite a character, had to tell about past guests. The hotel has housed many important politicians, musicians, and writers since opening in the late 1950s. It's like staying in a museum with interesting and valuable pieces of furniture around the house and rooms which will surprise you with musical instruments or old carriages and sleighs. There is even a little chapel within the house.
The owner is the host's son and the chef of the restaurant in the house. He cooks with copper pots and pans, has a wood burning range which also has two gas plates and an electric oven which is not fan-forced. His specialty is polenta which has been cooked for hours over the wood burning stove. The food we were served for dinner was delicious every single time.