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Maun dar e maun tor—
Give one hand, take the other back.
(Val Müstair proverb. It refers to buying and selling.
If the vendor can hand over goods with one hand and, at the same time,
take the money with the other, then no debt and no mistrust will remain.)

Grey cloth.

Exactly when the Chasa Chalavaina was built is not known. In 1499, however, the building was already about 200 years old; Christoph Simonett, in his book "Die Bauernhäuser des Kantons Graubünden" ("Farmhouses of the Canton of Grisons"), dates its beginnings in the "Burgenzeit", on the evidence of the light-slits in the foundation walls. In other words, the house must have been built before 1300. Two of the light-slits can still be seen today in the Cafetaria, which was once the court, or large courtyard. Now bricked up, they just form niches in the walls. The court is thus one of the oldest parts of the Chasa Chalavaina. It is about 700 years old.


The function of the Chasa Chalavaina has remained the same over the centuries. The building was designed as a sust, or inn, as is confirmed by the sizeable stable, also built during the Burgenzeit, on its east side. Here the coachmen and muleteers sheltered their mules and horses after their arduous journey over the passes.
Shortly after completion of the central structure, two long narrow rooms were built beside the court, looking onto the village square. These two rooms were very important for the people of the Val Müstair, for, behind these semi-circular windows, the cloth market was held. It was here that the women exchanged the "grey cloth" they had woven for salt and groceries. The takings from the cloth market were used by the farming families of the Val Müstair to supplement their meagre income —parts of the land were unproductive and unprofitable.
Loden of Grisons, as the grey cloth was also known, was famous for its quality and much prized by merchants. Much of it went to Lombardy and was there re-sold. The left-hand shop is now part of the Cafetaria, the right-hand one used as a store-room.


The main entrance to the building is on the terrace, but the steps up to the terrace have not always led over the right-hand shop as they do today; once upon a time, until the barn was added—now converted into the hotel's new wing—the steps rose against the inn's southern wall.

 

 
 

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