Benedictine Convent of St. John
Visitors need to traverse two Alpine passes to reach this UNESCO-inscribed 8th-century Carolingian chapel, noted for its vaulted roof, faded pastel frescoes, and Romanesque apses illuminated by an achingly delicate and golden afternoon sun. The chapel is the last stop in Switzerland
before crossing into Italy
: It offers all the cold austerity of the Alps, but warmed by wafts of earthy dolce vita from its neighbor. To reach the convent from the base of the mountain in Zernez, it’s about a 60-minute scenic bus ride that travels through the 67-square-mile Swiss National Park—where you can spot ibex, chamois, and marmot—and past the excavated Iron Age ovens of the Ofen Pass before getting to the tranquil Müstair Valley. A lengthier and more challenging journey includes a seven-hour trek on the Senda Val Müstair trail, which takes you close to several churches and old homes with sgraffito decoration.