Two craggy hills tower over the northeastern edge of Chiavenna. One is named “Paradiso” and the other is “Castellaccio.” Together they make up the Paradiso Botanical and Archaeological Park.
A footbridge joins the peaks, which are separated by a slit at their bases called “la Caùrga.” Originally sculpted by glacial exaration, la Caùrga was used as a stone quarry by the Romans and then later fortified for defensive purposes.
The park is part of a larger natural reserve area called “Marmitte dei Giganti.” The entrance, near the Chiavenna cemetery, leads to multiple footpaths that provide a variety of ways up. Botanical gardens and geological curiosities dot the landscape.
The open-air gardens include some species that are not alpine varieties. There are several mammoth-sized agave plants, a patch of prickly pear cactuses, and several towering palm trees. The backdrop of the snow-capped Alps offers a stark contrast to the Mediterranean and tropical plants.
The summit is occupied by the remains of a thousand-year-old fortress which makes up part of the Museum of Valchiavenna. At the top, there is a spectacular view of Chiavenna in the valley below.
Know Before You Go
There is a small entry fee (€3).