Forests, pastures, water and villages. This is the Valtellina and much more. It’s the mountains paradise of Lombardy, a diverse and lively landscape where you’d never take a stop. The four seasons of the year are four amazing opportunities to discover new places, to relax, to take your time, enjoy yourself and enjoy the cultural offer. Whoever reaches this part of the Alpes will find their dimension: according to the area and the altitude Valtellina provides equipped ski facilities, tracks in the altitude or in the valley, historical routes and architecture, cycle routes, river routes and jubilation of good food and good wine. There are several things to do and you can be spoiled of choice from the foot of Mount Stelvio to lake Como. We have decided to explore the mid-valley setting off from Teglio, heading towards Tirano then visiting Mazzo of Valtellina up to Grosio.
Teglio, the land of pizzoccheri
Midway between Sondrio and Tirano, the Grigioni and the Cisalpina Republic there’s the panoramic village of Teglio, an ancient land of conquest for the Romans and the Longobards which is considered a certified “slow city” and it’s one of the best destinations because of the high quality of living and the protection of its historical and artistic landmarks, its tourist facilities and its food richness. One of the main reasons to visit Teglio is tasting the pizzoccheri, a traditional dish of pasta that is acknowledged by the Pizzoccheri Academy. It is made by using the buckwheat flour and the white flour, the butter, the Valtellina Casera cheese, the Grana Padano cheese, the savoy cabbage, garlic and pepper. But in Teglio you can also see Palazzo Besta, a villa dating back to the Renaissance period that features an elegant front side, the wonderful courtyard, the main floor with its beautiful decorated hall and the Antiquarium Tellinum on the ground floor where the ancient samples of the regional art are collected. Moreover, this area is a sports centre in the open air: from 400 metres of the valley floor to 3000 metres of the highest peaks there are lots of possibilities to do sports in the open air. There’s a network of old dirt tracks where you can go mountain-biking or horse-riding or you can go canoeing down the river Adda and the Castelvetro cliff is at the disposal of the most skilled adventurers. You can’t leave Teglio without taking a look at least once at the tower of “de li beli miri”, the landmark of the village on the top of the valley.
Tirano, the red train and the treasures of art
The Bernina red train which is included in the Unesco Heritage is the landmark of Tirano which is divided into two different historical parts: the old village next to left shore of river Adda and the area of Madonna of Tirano. In the first area you can visit Palazzo Salis, an elegant house made of two towers that feature a front side dating back to the late XVIth century and its indoor space where you can see the “Saloncello”, decorated with frescoes belonging to the XVIIth and the XIIIth centuries, the staircase and the historical cellars. In the old village Palazzo Merizzi which dates back to the XVIIIth century stands out too, it’s featured by a beautiful courtyard and a porch decorated with some plasters and the Parish of San Martino dating back to the XVth century. The other historical part of Tirano is the area near the Sanctuary of Madonna of Tirano featuring elegant Renaissance shapes. The tower bell with three windows is matched to the interior which is decorated in the Baroque style with wooden statutes and a huge pipe organ dating back to the XVIIth century. Not far from the Sanctuary there is the Ethnographic Museum of Tirano that is focused on the local traditions. Tirano also means the taste of its typical dish, the Chisciöi, a sort of pancakes made of buckwheat and cheese but outdoor activities are remarkable too. You can do rafting, go mountain biking and go hiking. The river Adda is exciting for the lovers of water sports while if you are fond of cycling you can rent the bikes thanks to the service offered by “Valtellina rent a bike” and you can explore the whole area starting from “Via dei terrazzamenti”, the cycle-pedestrian route that connects Morbegno and Tirano. You can also enjoy an amazing view if you cycle along the Valtellina Track, a cycle route that reaches Grosio. It’s a route for everyone while the “track of smugglers” is very particular and exciting.
Mazzo di Valtellina, in the shadow of Mortirolo
It is located in the shadow of Mortirolo, the legendary peak of the Italy Bile Tour, it can be reached by following a route that runs across the vineyards, the forests and the fields. You can find chestnut trees and conifers in the altitude while apples are cultivated in the valley floor and the bresaola is also made there. It is one of the typical products from Valtellina and it is and IGP product (guarantee of origin for foods produced in a specific Italian area). If you are into art you can’t miss a visit to the Church of Santo Stefano since it is a very old church and it once was the centre of religious life. It features a Baroque style and it keeps a lot of decorations and a vestry full of interesting frescoes. The church of Santa Maria deserves a stop too: there are three religious buildings, the medieval baptistery of John the Baptist, featuring an octagonal shape, the Church of Saint Mary dating back to the XVth century and the Parish hall dedicated to Saint Ambrose and Carlo Borromeo which date back to the XVIth century. If you like hiking there’s the Foppa Pass which connects Valtellina and Val Camonica and it is surrounded by forests of conifers and the Alpine Chain and the track of Castels enable you to reach Mazzo from Tovo di S. Agata and continues towards Grosotto, a charming route across the apples cultivations, the forests and the vineyards.
Grosio, the village of the two castles
The castle of San Faustino features a Roman tower-bell and the New Castle is surrounded by two rings of walls and a huge walled tower. They are two places rich of history and Grosio is a place of archaeological interest as well because of its Park of Cave’s engravings. Handcrafted products are very interesting too, the pewter is used to make the trays, the plates , the trophies and pieces of jewellery, there are the laces that are used to make the traditional costumes. Near the two castles of Grosio you can also visit the church of Saint Joseph featuring a rich marble altar in the Baroque style and the interesting church of Saint George which was rebuilt at the end of the XVth century that contains a number of beautiful frescoes and you can also visit the Museum of Villa Visconti Venosta, an old house belonging to the Visconti Venosta family where some rooms feature a number of decorations and paintings influenced by the Eastern art and some furnishings that date back to the XVIth and the XIXth century. Grosio also means experiencing a natural environment and hiking up historical tracks that enable you to discover an incredible natural richness, walking along religious tracks or water routes, another important richness of this area.