- Food & Wine
Discover the flavors of Valtellina
Leafy woods and thermal waters. Alpine pastures that offer great cheeses, meats and full-bodied wines
Adventure and relax. Lombardy isn’t all plains, paddy fields and lakes. The region is also home to forests of fir trees, mountains to climb and slopes to ski down, a cool refuge in the scorching summer and an adventure playground in the harsh winter.
Valtellina has been seen as a haven of wellbeing since Roman times, with the Romans discovering sulphurous water here – the baths in Bormio are a must-visit to this day. Don’t miss out on a stroll through the spending Art Nouveau-style historic centre of Tirano, one of the most beautiful villages in Alta Lombardia.
Wine worthy of heroes. The vine that produces the Nebbiolo grape, known in these parts as Chiavennasca, is cultivated in spite of the obstacles nature has thrown up. To overcome these problems, the locals completed the painstaking job of building terraces out of dry-stone walls. The pursuit is known locally as “heroic viticulture” – the refusal
to surrender to the harshness of reality and the determination to see those bunches of grapes grow, to harvest them and then to turn them into precious
nectar. The result is a range of top-quality red wines like Sassella, which hails from a tiny area where the hillside is steep and the wind fierce. Inferno is made from grapes taken from an area which gets notably hotter in the summer; Sfursàt – or Sforzato – is one of the most famous Passito wines in all of Italy.
Milk miracles. Valtellina’s most well-known cheese is Bitto, which traditionally was produced in just a few pastures perched on the mountains in the area cut in two by a stream of the same name. The cheese is warmed during the production process, while cow’s milk is joined by milk from Orobica goats, a native species of the Val Gerola. Also worth tasting is Casera, whose name comes from the local word for the cellar in which the cheeses are left to age. It’s the perfect cheese for grating on pizzoccheri and
stuffing sciatt – delicious little buckwheat fritters.
Bresaola and Violino di Capra. There are some excellent cured meats to be discovered too. Take bresaola, for example, which is made from a single piece of lean, flavoursome beef, or Violino di Capra, made from the thigh and shoulder of the goat and so named because its shape resembles that of a violin case.