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Lodges in Lombardy

Key words: welcome, good traditional food and breathtaking landscapes.

True, in the mountains nature and sport rule supreme. But there is also no shortage of places to stop at for a food-loving break or relaxing weekend. So here are some of Lombardy's best refuges, where you can stay or get your feet under the table, awaiting a delicious dish or some piping hot polenta.

Set among the peaks of Ortles-Cevedale, perched on a rock with a view of the Bernina mountain range, is the Rifugio Quinto Alpini, ideal base for climbing Monte Zebrù and its glacier, but also for conquering Punta Thurweiser (3652 mt) or scaling the rock walls of Ortles. The refuge is reached by an easy walk, accessible to all (children included), starting from the Niblogo car park, in Val Zebrù. When you arrive, you could enjoy a lunch of traditional dishes from the Valtellina, prepared with local products, or take a break in the bar. En suite rooms also available.

 Valtellina cooking, prepared with simple, healthy ingredients, will tempt the most discerning palates here at Rifugio Mello, located close to enchanting Cascina Piana. Here, after filling up with a good plate of pizzoccheri or barbecued meat, you can enjoy the lovely garden or set off for a pleasant walk in the Val di Mello Nature Reserve, a paradise not only for nature lovers, but also for rock climbers or fans of bouldering. The refuge is reached by an easy walk along a broad, level mule track, which crosses the meadows of Val Mello and flanks a cool stream. Comfortable accommodation also available.

Rifugio Monte Poieto can be reached by one of several footpaths starting from the village of Aviatico or by cable car. In this oasis of peace, just a short distance from the big cities, you can spend a weekend, pampered in the comfortable, elegant rooms and enjoying the sophisticated cuisine. And here you can then choose between doing absolutely nothing, spending your days soaking up the sun in the meadows and enjoying the view of the Orobic Prealps, or have an active holiday, with walks along the footpaths, mountain bike rides and climbing Cornagera.

 At 1968 metres, in Alta Valle Brembana, at Barzi to be exact, is Rifugio Laghi Gemelli, which can only be reached on foot. When you get to the top, your efforts will be rewarded with a breathtaking view and a cuisine that offers traditional local produce and recipes. These range from fresh pasta courses, most notably casoncelli, foiade ai funghi or pasta allo strachitunt, to main courses of meat, including donkey or game stew, roast meats or pot roast. As always, there are local cold cuts and cheeses and a good, piping hot polenta - for real lovers of good food!

If you would like to sleep in the green Parco dell'Adamello, then choose Rifugio Loa, which has a spacious dormitory and some en suite rooms. By day, you can enjoy the open air, striking out along the Sentiero della Memoria or climbing up to Pian della Regina and Piz Olda. In the evening, a delicious dinner of local dishes and game, spit roast and grilled suckling pig, which can be eaten al fresco, if wished, in the spacious outdoor dining area.

Small but welcoming, Rifugio Valmalza stands out against the splendid background of Parco dello Stelvio. To be visited, not only to enjoy the beauty of its unspoilt nature, but also to succumb to gastronomic temptation. Its home cooking offers traditional dishes such as Calsu della nonna Graziella, Gnoc de la cua, or Polenta e castagne al miele, which can be eaten in the dining room or, on a sunny day, on the beautiful panoramic terrace. Afterwards, if you are too tired to walk back (the refuge can only be accessed on foot), you might decide to stay over in one of its rooms.

Whether arriving on foot from the Moggio-Artavaggio cableway or from Piani di Bobbio, along the Sentiero degli Stradini, Rifugio Nicola is always a nice surprise.
Firstly, for its architecture in the form of a pyramid, inspired by the nearby mountain, Sodadura. Then, for its interior decorated in alpine style and for its good food – polenta and jugged venison, pizzocheri, chops and real ale. Vegetarian and vegan menus available on request.

Ideal base for walks to Grigna and Grignetta, Rifugio Soldanella has a wonderful position, near to Piani Resinelli. From the picture windows of the function room and from the solarium of one of the five rooms available, you can enjoy an enchanting panorama of Valsassina and the plains. The cuisine is traditional, based on produce from local farmers – from local cheeses with dandelion, to asparagus and fresh spinach, or home made honey cakes from Piani Resinelli – and there is always a touch of brio and creativity.  The proof is in the pudding! Try their Crespelle farina di ceci bio con ortiche e ricotta di capra (organic chickpea pancakes with nettles and goat's ricotta) or Tagliatelle farina di castagne al tartufo nero Lariano (chestnut flour pasta with black Lariano truffles).

Sleep at high altitude but with a view of the lakes and Piani di Spagna? At Rifugio Dalco you can. This small refuge in Montemezzo, a few kilometres from Sorico, offers accommodation in studio or larger flats furnished in alpine style with panoramic views, free wi-fi and an excellent restaurant serving local dishes, revisited with brio and imagination. The refuge is an ideal base for trying paragliding and for walking along the Via de Monti Lariani.

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