Valtellina is a predominantly mountainous region in the northern part of Lombardia that extends from Lake Como to Switzerland. Not far from Milan and very close to the Swiss border, Valtellina is a land inhabited by simple people, rich in traditions and with wild nature. The numerous villages welcome visitors, allowing them to dive into the spirit of the past. Although mountains are the first thing that comes to mind when talking about the Alpine region, many other elements are bond to Valtellina’s territory.
Let’s Start from Food and Wine
The best way to discover this region, which is extremely rich in artistic, cultural and natural treasures, is to organize a 360° visit. Since this is a very broad area, there are some useful tips you can follow to get the most out of your trip.
First of all, you need to find a common thread for your tour. Enogastronomy is one of them, and it’s worth trying. Valtellina has indeed been able to propose its ancient recipes in a cutting-edge tourist offer. The food and wine itineraries in Valtellina are as numerous as the products that are part of its cultural identity. In addition to these itineraries, there are tours to farms and wineries where visitors have the opportunity to get in touch with the ethics of production and see the processing of the products.
Besides these proposals, several events are organized to raise awareness of the specialities of Valtellina’s cuisine in a cheerful atmosphere. Visitors flocking from the surrounding areas and coming even from further away have the chance to “live” this destination and to try a unique sensory experience. Territory and landscape serve not only as a simple background, but they’re directly touched and experienced.
5 Experiences Not to Be Missed
Valtellina’s most famous dish
Teglio is the old capital of Valtellina. Located in a strategic position, it stands right in the middle of the territory. Besides representing the ideal starting point to visit nearby places, it’s also a village of extraordinary beauty where to live and eat well. There are indeed various opportunities to taste good food here and, as written on the sign at the entrance of the village, Teglio is the birthplace of the Pizzoccheri.
Among its events, the Pizzocchero d’Oro (literally golden Pizzocchero) is probably the most popular for tourists and inhabitants. On different dates starting from September, it’s possible to taste the original noodles made of buckwheat and seasoned with cheese, butter, potatoes, cabbage and garlic. Once considered a poor and high-calorie dish suitable to compensate for the effort of people working outside, in more recent times it has even been the milestone to found the namesake Academy of the Pizzocchero, aimed at preserving the original recipe.
An Exhibition Full of Taste
Every year, for over one hundred years, Morbegno has been organizing the famous exhibit Mostra del Bitto. The Bitto is a fat cheese, the symbol of ancient traditions handed down over time. The exhibition involves the whole town and, in addition to numerous visitors, there are also experts in the food and wine sector and professional tasters who are called to judge and evaluate the Bitto. Street food is paired with conferences, show cooking exhibitions, live productions and many other activities to light up the atmosphere.
Vines and Flavors of Autumn
Wine is a symbol of Valtellina’s identity. The production area extends for about 40 kilometres from Ardenno to Tirano, and the wines produced here are known all over the world. There are many possibilities to discover the different types of wine if this region. For example, visiting the wineries and taking part in the events organized in the municipalities of Valtellina. Or even joining the initiatives proposed by the Wine Tourism Movement, that has been hosting the Open Cellars manifestation since 1993. Throughout the Italian peninsula, this event sees wineries show their products and let visitors appreciate their unicity.
In addition to these events, there are also the Wine Roads, that allow the exploration of the territory following the routes that pass by the main vineyards. These circuits consist of about 67 km of paths that one can explore by foot, bike, and, sometimes, by car.
Through the vineyards of the Maroggia, Sassella, Grumello, Inferno and Valgella, it’s possible to discover the beautiful landscapes characterized by terraced vineyards and small villages hanging on the slopes. Along the way, there are many opportunities for refreshments, accommodation, tastings and purchases. It’s also important to remember that, while following the Wine Roads, you may bump into amazing monuments such as abandoned castles, fortresses and churches.
And for wine lovers, surprises never end. Valtellina Wine Trail is a run through the vines in the province of Sondrio. The event is divided into three routes depending on the training of the participants: the Wine Trail, the Half Trail and the Sassella Run.
The crotti are rocky caves used as natural cellars, characterized by an average constant temperature throughout the year. Used as cold storages since the earliest times, the crotti are still used as refrigerators to preserve the fine products of the territory, such as the bresaola. The Sagra dei Crotti offers food and wine tours in the town of Chiavenna to enjoy the culinary treasures of the valley at a “slow” pace.
Festivals in the Villages
Ponte in fiore is an event organized during the spring months that includes musical performances, movies, photographic exhibitions and walks in the beautiful flowered setting of Ponte.
Gustosando includes a series of food and wine tours in the lower part of Valtellina, in particular in the Val Gerola area.
In Tartano, birthplace of the Accademia della Polenta, the event dedicated to this unique dish cannot be missed. Delizie di polenta brings together chefs and innkeepers with the aim of attracting the attention of visitors and relaunching this resort in the tourist scenario.
Last but not least, the Sagra del mirtillo of Rasura is one of the most beloved events by adults and children. The blueberry fruit is used not only for delicious desserts and jams, but also to cook risotto.
Cover Photo by Weekend Premium