With majestic terraced vineyards at the foot of the Alps, a rich gastronomy that highlights local products, and the multitude of outdoor activities it offers, Valtellina is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions of Italy, but also one of the least known.
The Valtellina region is located at the northern end of Lombardy near the Swiss border. This valley, which follows the course of the Adda River, is bounded on the west by Lake Como and on the east by the Bormio massif.
Lovers of nature and sports vacations will not be disappointed. Hiking, cycling, climbing, rafting, paragliding, skiing, canyoning, mountain biking, you’ll be spoilt for choice to fill up on mountain air! Valtellina is home to the fabulous Stelvio National Park, one of the largest protected nature reserves in Europe. In the area you will find a number of winter sports resorts and over 300 kilometers of ski slopes. Trekking enthusiasts can also opt for the beautiful trails of the Orobie Valtellinesi regional park.
The small town of Sondrio, capital of the Valtellina, is located in the center of the valley. It is an excellent starting point for exploring the entire region. Perched on the heights of Sondrio, the ruins of Castel Grumello are not to be missed. Here you will find one of the most beautiful views of the Sondrio valley.
Balneotherapy enthusiasts can go to the small spa town of Bormio. Here you can relax in outdoor hot tubs with a breathtaking view of the mountains. In Bormio, take the opportunity to visit the Braulio liqueur factory and taste ice creams and desserts flavored with this herb liqueur, whose recipe is secretly kept…
You can’t visit the Valtellina region without drinking a good glass of nebbiolo, called chiavennasca here. The vineyards have been cultivated in terraces for centuries and a walk through the vineyards is an experience worth the trip. Take the opportunity to visit one or two producers, who will tell you about the beautiful wine history of the area and the challenges of growing grapes. Due to the topography and the terraced nature of the vineyards, no mechanization is possible. From vineyard maintenance to harvesting, everything is done by hand!
Finally, the more athletic can sign up for the Valtellina Wine Trail, an endurance race through the region’s wine country, which takes place in mid-November. There are three options: 11, 20 or 42 kilometers. Needless to say, the terrain is far from flat!
A wine destination, but also a gastronomic destination! Valtellina is an agricultural region where you will find a large number of cheese and meat specialties. The cheeses of the region, made from cow’s milk, are called bitto and casera. The scimudin, on the other hand, is most often made from goat’s milk. To taste the cheeses of Valtellina, we suggest you visit the Fratelli Ciaponni store, which has one of the best selections of cheeses in the entire region.
Bresaola della Valtellina is a cured beef product, salted and then dried, and eaten raw. The salting process takes between 10 and 20 days and the drying process takes between 2 and 4 months at a temperature of between 20 and 30C. Today, the vast majority of bresaola is industrially produced, and the meat is imported mainly from Argentina and Brazil. Instead, turn to artisanal bresaola made with beef raised in alpine pastures. Here are two good places to get it (the first for fresh bresaola lovers, the second for those who prefer it drier and saltier):
– Macelleria Irroneo
Via Roma, 21, Tovo di Sant’Agata
+39 0342 775758
– Bresesti Giorgio
32, Via Nazionale S. Giacomo – 23036 Teglio
+39 0342 786104
For more information on bresaola: http://www.bresaolavaltellina.it/
The most emblematic culinary specialty of Valtellina is without a doubt the pizzoccheri, the dark pasta made from buckwheat flour. Pizzoccheri are traditionally prepared with casera cheese, lots of butter and cabbage. A mountain dish to be avoided if you are on a diet! As a guarantor of tradition, the Accademia del Pizzochero di Teglio jealously guards the authentic recipe of the pizzoccheri… The sciatt is a delicious buckwheat flour fritter filled with casera cheese.
Where to eat?
To taste the Valtellina cuisine, here are some suggestions of good restaurants :
Ristorante Ca d’Otello
Via Ca d’Otello 15, Trevisio
Phone: +39 0342 43 10 28
Pizzeria Ristorante Malleretto
Via Perego 10, 23100 sondrio
Phone: +39 0342 350325
Via Stelvio, 297, 23020 Montagna In Valtellina
Phone: +39 0342 615584
Osteria del Crotto
Via Pedemontana, 22, Morbegno
Phone: +39 0342 614800
Ristoro Castel Grumello
Via San Antonio, 11, 23020 Montagna in Valtellina
Phone: +39 0342 380994
Ristorante Il Poggio
Via Panoramica, 4 23020 Poggiridenti (SO)
Phone: +39 0342 380800
To learn more about this beautiful region and plan your trip: http://www.valtellina.it/en