A pleasant breeze blows from the main road of Bivio Gr. Even shortly before noon, the weather app shows no more than 19 °C. The 217-soul space is in stark contrast to the heat-stricken Unterland these days.
The temperature is recorded just outside the village, which is about 1800 meters above sea level. Meteo is one of 151 measuring stations operated by Schweiz, right next to Julier Pass Road. In July, it recorded an average temperature of 13.5 degrees Celsius. Minimum price of all stations located near a village or town. In the scorching heat of 2022, Bivio is one of the coldest places in Switzerland.
suspected theft does not occur
There is no village center in Bivio. Instead, it’s a route that for decades has taken the rich and famous in their Porsches and Ferraris from the Julier Pass to the St. Moritz GR. Hotel Solaria is not a hundred meters away. Here Gregorio Toriani (36) arranges the seat cushions on the ceiling. There is no one to watch, but the appearances are deceptive. “Our hotel is fully booked at the moment. Practically all the guests are currently hiking in the mountains, ”says the hotelier.
Toriani is relieved. Before the start of the summer season, hoteliers in the Graubünden valleys feared a drop in the number of guests – now that borders abroad are fully open again. The opposite has come, thanks to the heat-unstable lowlands.
Hotel industry associations confirm Blick: Thanks to Swiss who stayed home, the mountainous region is building on the success of recent years. “If the temperature in the lowlands climbs more than 30 degrees, our strings get hot,” Toriani says. Compared to the previous season, which was already record-breaking, its business saw a 20 percent increase in sales.
“Ticino was too hot for us”
Immediately after noon, the first guests arrive at the hotel. The thermometer Toriani only shows 24 °C, even in the midday sun. For comparison: 38.3 ° C was recorded in Geneva on the same day – in the shade! This is a Swiss annual record.
Emmental’s Bill family is sitting on the terrace back from their morning walk. Finally back in quiet Graubünden. “We recently tried to take Ticino on vacation, but it got too hot for us,” says Catherine Bill (39).
In Bivio, the full inn is especially appreciated. Here you don’t shake a nice weather out of the blue like St. Moritz Gr. In bivio, exclusive and great is limited to a designation that dates back to the 1960s. After this, a grocer named Pearl took the place. Pearl was also the village president and gave Bivio the nickname “The Pearl on the Julier”. Pearl’s shop is now a crche, the nickname has stuck.
The surname symbolizes what Bivian wanted to achieve with his closeness to St. Moritz: get a piece of cake. It never really worked. To this day, the village has the reputation of being a sleepy transit spot – erroneously, as many think. Nevertheless, the journey over the Julier Pass or the long journey from Chur via Oberhalbstein requires low prices and heat in the low-lying areas to make it palatable to the masses.
The “Transit Place” has been revived
Gregorio Toriani is the fourth generation to run the Hotel Solaria. Three years earlier he had taken it from his father, Giancarlo (74). He proudly says: “Not every hotelier can claim that their descendants will take over it.”
And the descendants step on the gas. In the old military bunker, on a hill above Bivio, they set up a concert hall and a marquee. In spite of the pleasant mountain weather, it is raining drops of sweat. The boys are organizing a three-day open air event. They’re expecting about 400 visitors who are escaping the heat and tenting upstairs – or booking hotel rooms in the village.
“The best summer festival in Switzerland!” Advertises co-organizer Marie-Helen Freudevaux (37). Originally from Will SG, she has lived in the area for many years – also because of the pleasant summer temperatures. She is not the only one to come down from the valley and bring fresh blood to the area. In Bivio, the population has increased by 20 percent over the past five years, after the first consecutive fall.
“The summer season is becoming more and more important”
Gian-Marco Thoman (33) agrees with this term. Along with hotelier Toriani and other friends, he brought the sports shop back to the village in 2019. Once the focus was solely on the winter season, now hot winters and hot summers have changed the business. Bikes and hiking socks have become an important source of income. “The summer season has a lot of potential, it’s becoming more and more important,” he says.
Young people, vibrant rural life, a return to business and, above all, many people fleeing the heat: in Bivio, it no longer bothers anyone if the drivers of Porsche and Ferrari only take a fleeting glance at the village. St. Moritz.