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Chiavenna, Italy

Paradiso Botanical Archaeological Park

An archaeological treasure trove towers over the valley of Chiavenna. 

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).