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Cur cha'l Piz Daint ha sü chapè, schi in trais dis plova
When the Piz Daint wears a hat, it will rain in three days.
(Val Müstair proverb)


A couple of paces from the village square to the Chasa Chalavaina, across the cobble stones, in under the eaves, thoughtfully up the ten steps of the outside staircase (—your right hand brushes against the 700-year-old granite walls and feels their roughness) then at the top the Gothic archway built using differently coloured chunks of volcanic limestone, and, stepping through it (—your left hand touches the old wooden door bearing the coat of arms of the noble von Hermanin family), out onto the terrace. There is a feeling of having been transported back in time, to the time breathed by every piece of timber, every nook and cranny in the Chasa Chalavaina. The cars in the street are unreal, alien shapes from a future century. The here-and-now setting of the terrace belongs to another age.

Neighing horses, the squeal and creak of carriage wheels, would fit the scene. The calendar might show the late middle ages. For instance 1499. That year is certainly a special one for the Val Müstair because according to legend on the 21st of May, 1499, Benedikt Fontana, the commander of the Grisons forces, stood by the parapet of the terrace dressed for battle. Fontana was addressing 6,300 young men of Grisons, all unmarried. They had gathered in the Müstair village square, in front of the Chasa Chalavaina, to hear Fontana's instructions for the impending battle. The mats, as these youths, famous for their fighting prowess, were called, were intending to throw the Austro-Hapsburg troops out of the Val Müstair. Commander-in-chief of that army was the German Emperor, Maximilian. Maximilian had declared war upon the Grisons and the Swiss Confederates in April 1499, after the failure of peace negotiations following earlier clashes. In so doing he set the scene for what we today call the "Swabian War".


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