Organic Farm – Braggio, Graubünden (CH)

The thermometer reached 25 degrees for the first time this year last Tuesday and instead of spending the time playing at the local park, we decided to re-visit a tiny village we discovered two years ago when friends took us on a family friendly walk in the area: Braggio. This small village (57 permanent inhabitants) can basically only be reached by a little cable car, that you have to operate yourself!

What

  1. Walks and hikes.
  2. Picnics.
  3. Farm animals.
  4. Holiday or weekend stay.

Time & Length

You can spend an hour, week or longer. There are many different routes all signposted with length (in minutes/hours).

5 Reasons you should go

  1. Several walks over paved roads (very suitable for strollers), unpaved roads and trails all with amazing views on the mountains.
  2. You can operate your own tiny, little cable cart to go up to Braggio! How cool is that!!
  3. Yummy local cheeses and salami can be bought at the tiny “supermarket” in the village “center”.
  4. You can visit an organic farm and its animals (goats, pigs, cows) and if you are lucky the owners are around and can explain you more about farm life.
  5. It’s perfect for a holiday or weekend-stay in nature with kids.

Stroller // Walk

From the village of Braggio you can take several walks and hikes. For those with children there are some paved road walks, easily done with a stroller. The walk we took, with the pram, two years ago went from Braggio to Cauco, an even smaller village back at the foot of the mountain, which was 100% over paved roads, car free (except the occasional tractor from a local farmer). Note that sometimes you will have to walk a bit uphill, so you will break a sweat at certain points when pushing a pram. No worries though, as there are enough meadows where one can sit and rest for a picnic and should want some fresh fruit, there are enough bushes with wild strawberries along the road.

In Cauco you can take the bus back to the start of the journey, the cable car in Arvigo. Be sure to check the bus times BEFORE you start hiking though, either online or ask a local. It would be sad if you just missed the bus upon your arrival in Cauco and have to walk all the way back to your car. It’s doable, but after the long walk and perhaps with tired kids it’s something you don’t want to leave to chance ;-).

Stay

If you want to spend a weekend or holiday in Braggio, book a room or guesthouse at one of the several houses in Braggio. We found an organic farm that we checked out for a future stay, Braggio Refontana. They have a separate guest house for max 4 adults and 3 to 4 kids. The guesthouse is spacious, has comfortable beds and some toys and books for kids and a range of books for adults. From the window you have a stunning view on the mountains and no sounds other than the wind, the birds and, of course, the cattle. One little macabre fact: the slaughter room is beneath the guesthouse. We were ensured though that no slaughter takes place when guests are staying at the house. Not entirely unimportant to know when you have kids running around.

The animals on the farm look healthy, happy and they have enough space to wander about. When a cow has a calf, no milk is taken from her for farmer’s use. Only when a calf is sold or slaughtered (they sell some meat), the milk from its mom can be used for humans. This may sound logical, but I have seen at a goat farm recently where baby goats were taken away from their moms and raised on formula (goat) milk and the milk from the moms went straight in to the cheese production…

Where

Braggio is a 50 Minute drive north from Lugano, just over the border to Graubünden. The village we put in the navigation system was Arvigo. From there we took the tiny cable car (not for the faint haerted!) 690 meters up the mountain. It was a short walk (but took long with an unwilling 3 year old of course…) to the beautifully situated farm.

Interesting to know

The owners invited us for a lovely lunch in the farm’s courtyard and we learned quite a bit on how the life of a farmer up there is. We had, for example, no idea that the main income for these type of farmers (small in set up, organic) is state subsidies. The sell of produce and the incoming money from renting out the guest quarters does not make for an income for two and maintaining the farm.

We also learned that for three months in summer the cows and goats go up the Alp. The journey there takes 7 hours, which, of course, is done by foot and having to herd all the animals. Once the animals have arrived, the farmers go back to their farm to clean and repair and to prepare for the long winter season. The cattle they leave in the care of summer cattle herds. During the three months on the Alp these herds can use all the produce from the cattle and sell it to, for example, supermarkets, bio stores or at farmers markets.

Apparently it has been very hard to find people willing to stay on the alp for 3 months, partly because it’s a dying profession, but, more practically, it’s hard to combine with a normal job, which you would need to survive the rest of the year. The lovely farmer couple does most, if not all, the work alone. They even slaughter the animals themselves. It sounds cruel, but as a meat eater I felt like I should know how my meat lands on my plate, so I asked how it’s done.

PRICE:
Cable Car – Bring enough money and specifically coins! Machine only takes coins and there are no cash machines around…we found out the hard way. Adults: 4 CHF (one way) Kids: 2 CHF (one way)

Logging at Refontana
: 85 CHF a night/480 CHF per week (excluding 60 CHF cleaning fee) Cats and dogs are allowed. More info: www.braggio-refontana.ch

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