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Crotti in Valchiavenna
Discovering the natural cellars formed under the boulders of ancient landslides from which the "sorel" blows
Traveling or staying in Valchiavenna imply to visit its famous Crotti. They were natural caverns that served as warehouses, characterized by a natural spiral among the rock walls through which a breeze blows year-round at a constant 4-8° C temperature.
Their name derives either from the latin word "crypta" or the medieval term "crota". Ever since ancient times, they were used as cost effective fridges thanks to the construction of a wall. The Crotti have over the centuries guarded the land's famous delicacies.
Back in 1929, when crotti were an integral part of local culture, poet chiavennasco Giovanni Bertacchi wrote: "Even the crotti, a delight for wine lovers and nightmare for abstemious people, widespread across the land as groups, bundles, rows or isolated like hermits, amid the blackness of the rock and the green hues of vineyards and forests, they are sacred to domestic feasts and friendly libations in which, like large harmonic boxes merry or patetic choirs of our vales are tuned, revealing a higher, ideal sense for whoever wishes to ponder on them".
It is easy to understand how these structures have become a fundamental element of daily life in Valchiavenna. Outside of the crotti, among prairies and hills, rustic tables and benches were people can gather and enjoy mutual company. They were usually reserved to be used by families to welcome relatives, guests or friends into the household.
A few crotti have been opened to the public over the last century, serving as restaurants in which propose local specialties in their menu.
The Sagra dei Crotti or Crotti Fair was born in 1956 as a food and wine initiative that has grown into one of the most expected and important events in the entire province of Sondrio.
With the Sagra dei Crotti - which usually takes place in early september - these unusual wonders from the Valchiavenna are promoted through culinary itineraries called "Andem a Crot", amid the streets of the ultimate slowfood city, Chiavenna.