Seven proposals in a pocket guide to fall in love with a magical territory: between ancient remains, sports and walks and two unmissable PDO cheeses
A journey between taste and tradition immersed in the unique landscapes of Valtellina and Valchiavenna. This is the 7-step proposal of the Consortium for the protection of Valtellina Casera and Bitto cheeses to discover the places and secrets of the two PDO cheeses, also summarized in a pocket guide, “I Sentieri di gusto”. There are seven food and wine and cultural itineraries between the most characteristic villages and mountain pastures of the two dairy products that are the symbol of Valtellina, the booklet is available to tourists in the information points and local tourism bodies and can be downloaded from the website https://www.ctcb.it/sentieri-di-gusto.
It starts from Chiavenna with its crotti, natural rocky tunnels in which the constant temperature (between 4 ° and 8 ° throughout the year) guarantees the ideal climate for the aging of wines but also of cheeses, to arrive in Morbegno , which for over 100 years has hosted the Bitto exhibition and one of its oldest shops. The La Fiorida farm is also located here, where the philosophy of the short supply chain is combined with a charming hotel, a wellness center and a Michelin star (La Presef restaurant), or the Latteria Sociale della Valtellina, where you can admire ancient wooden instruments and the coldera, the large copper pot where cheeses were prepared, and stocking up on dairy products. Going towards Albaredo, in the Orobie Park, a stop in the mountain pastures at the Alpe Piazza refuge is a must, to taste Bitto and experience a helicopter flight to the perennial glacier of Monte Disgrazia. We continue with the ancient village of Chiuro for a visit to the multi-awarded social dairy of the same name at the Bitto competition (for the Bitto 2020, for the young Valtellina Casera and for the one with a maturation of up to ten months). Nearby, Teglio: one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and the undisputed homeland of pizzocchero, seat of the Accademia del Pizzocchero today known throughout Italy.
In Tirano, the legendary Bernina red train makes a stop , the highest railway section in the Alps and one of the steepest natural-grip railways in the world. Do not miss the route of the terraces that shape the mountain in a path of 70 kilometers surprising for its natural spectacles: an itinerary where you get lost among vineyards and dry stone walls and along which you can taste identifying wines such as Sassella, Inferno and Sforzato, paired with Bitto and Valtellina Casera cheeses.
For those who love archeology, there is the Park of Rock Engravings with the Rupe Magna di Grosio, one of the largest engraved rocks in the Alps: with over 5,000 figures of fighters and animals dating back to the Neolithic, it is one of the places most visited in Valtellina. Finally, Bormio with its spas, the scents and colors of the 2,500 plant species collected in the Rezia alpine botanical garden and its Braulio, the typical liqueur of the area, and Livigno. Set in the northernmost corner of the region, it is a perfect location for mountain biking, trekking (for example in Val Saliente, Val di Viera, Sorgente Solforosa) and climbing, so much so that it is nicknamed in Lombardy, the “Little Tibet”. Lazy people will be able to arrive at the Crap de la Parè a natural balcony at 2.
“The itineraries of taste are part of the promotion campaign” At the origins of taste “and in the strategic plan of investments in the territory for the two-year period 2021-2022 for a total value of 600 thousand euros, announced last May. Our goal is to develop a 360 ° tourist offer, of a territory that has almost 1,200 accommodation activities and that in 2019, pre-pandemic, had registered three million presences with an increase of almost a third compared to 2017, thanks to a offer that is mainly developed between Madesimo, Bormio with the thermal springs, and Livigno (report by The European House – Ambrosetti), also enhancing the gastronomic offer that our breeders, producers and seasoners, small and large livestock farms, country dairies and modern dairies offer.
Stage # 1: Chiavenna
The first stop is Chiavenna, a small town located in the center of the homonymous valley. Chiavenna is the town of crotti, natural rock tunnels formed by ancient landslides and where the Sorel has always blown, a natural cold air current coming from the bowels of the mountains that maintains a constant temperature between 4 ° and 8 ° C both in summer and in winter throughout the year. The ideal temperature for maturing cheeses, such as Bitto and Valtellina Casera. Inside a crotto you can read the motto: Wine is drunk and a school of humanity is held. Many crotti offer a space for tastings, ideal for refreshing yourself with a good glass of wine and an assorted platter of cold cuts and cheeses, to find the right energy and continue the exploration of Chiavenna. At the Carden Dairy at Alpe Teggiate on Monte Spluga, near Madesimo, everything is by the author: from the sign to the cheeses.
Stage # 2: Morbegno
In 2019 Morbegno was the Alpine city of the year and is the main center of the lower Valtellina : a small jewel surrounded by the Alps. Here flows the Bitto river, which follows the valleys of Gerola and San Marco. Crossing the bridge you will find a historic food shop: Bitto is aged in its cellar. For over a hundred years, in fact, Morbegno has hosted the Mostra del Bitto in October, an unmissable event for all mountain and Valtellina lovers. A few kilometers from Morbegno, a must is the La Fiorida farm, where you can visit the stable, as well as watch the cheese being made and taste it. Here it is also possible to stay at the charming farmhouse with Spa, which uses the farm’s products for a four-season holiday. Not to be missed in addition to the cheeses, the ice cream, home made. Another outlet in the area is the Valtellina dairy in Delebio, important for the production of Valtellina Casera and for the aging of Bitto, where it is possible to visit the museum of dairy production with various wooden tools and the coldera, the large copper pot used for the preparation of cheeses. For those who want to enjoy a visit to the mountain pastures, the Alpe Piazza refuge, in the homonymous locality at 1,835 m asl, in the Municipality of Albaredo per S. Marco is equipped to offer lunches in nature with tables of over 40 people.
Stage # 3: Ponte in Valtellina and Chiuro
Chiuro is an ancient village with remains dating back to the prehistoric ages . Its name is also ancient: ciür, as it sounds in dialect, or Clure of Ligurian or Rhaeto-Etruscan origin. Here, a visit to the Chiuro Dairy Shop is a must, where it is possible to buy the company’s products, have lunch and learn more about local productions. The shop houses an appetizer on the second floor, where you can have lunch and taste a fresh homemade ice cream. In addition to producing cheeses, the Chiuro Dairy has developed a line of yoghurt with fresh and genuine flavors; it also collaborates with a Valtellinese social cooperative, which produces excellent extra fruit jams. Nearby, Teglio is worth a visit, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy characterized by natural and cultural beauties, as well as the home of pizzoccheri, a symbolic dish of the entire Valtellina and whose recipe is protected by the Pizzocchero Academy. Do not miss the pizzocchero festival scheduled from 26 to 28 July at the foot of the medieval tower of Teglio. During the party, in addition to the pizzoccheri entirely prepared on the spot, as handed down for generations, you can taste the sciatt, grilled meat, cold cuts and cheeses from Valtellina.
Stage # 4: Tirano
On the border with Switzerland, Tirano , embraced by steep mountains and extensive vineyards. Elected “Slow City” and “City of Wine”, is the ideal destination to spend a few days to regenerate the body and mind with the fresh mountain air and the genuine flavors of traditional cuisine. Lose yourself among the noble palaces, the squares and alleys with an ancient flavor and stop to admire the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Tirano. Here, on September 29, the bakeries make a leavened cake called the shield of San Michele. Divided into wedges, one of these contains a fig; in fact, tradition has it that the seer, Blessed Mario Omodei, had a basket of figs with him. Whoever finds it will be lucky. Try Bitto and Valtellina Casera together with honey or dried fruit, ideal for enhancing the taste of these two cheeses to the maximum. In Villa di Tirano, an ancient parish church, there is the La Motta farm by Stefano Rumo where, in addition tohorse and carriage trekking , as well as for workshops with horses for young and old. Once your stomach is filled, from Tirano you can get on the Bernina Red Train along the Rhaetian Railway, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2008 and connects the Valtellinese town at 492 meters above sea level, with Sankt Moritz.
Stage # 5: Grosio
Grosio is a very ancient village, a “casket”, which preserves the centuries of Valtellina, starting from the Rock Engravings Park where over 5,000 sacred engravings have been found on the Rupe Magna and dedicated to scenes of everyday life dating back to the age. of bronze. In Grosio it is possible to visit two real medieval castles, since it was part of the fief of the Valvenosta of the eleventh and fourteenth centuries. From Grosio you can live the experience of the mountain pasturereaching Alpe Boron and Alpe Malghera, where Bitto is produced at 1,964 meters. It is in the locality of Malghera that traditional festivals take place not to be missed: the characteristic opening party of the mountain pasture in early June, the solemn feast of the Madonna Assunta on 15 August and the closing day of the mountain pasture on the second Sunday of October.
Stage # 6: Bormio
Whether it is for skiing, mountain biking or simply walking, you cannot leave Bormio without first taking a dip in the thermal baths . The medieval remains are mixed with those of the fourteenth-sixteenth century, the golden age of the countryside, and in which you can meet numerous civil and religious buildings as well as the Kuerc, the tower of the hours of the fifteenth centurywhere the city council administered justice, which together with the Torre della Bajona that overlooks it, is the very symbol of Bormio. Stop at the old Peloni pharmacy, where the famous local Amaro Braulio was born. Green valleys of pastures and full of huts, on the border with Switzerland and a few kilometers from Bormio and the Stelvio pass, where you can enjoy a breathtaking view. In addition, among the many activities proposed, also that of discovering the real life of the mountain pastures and living the experience of milking with the shepherds, working the milk and making cheeses with the cheesemaker, helping to make hay and looking after the animals, learning to saddle a horse, as on the Pedranzini family’s mountain pasture, where in full respect of tradition, excellent cheeses and cured meats have been produced for generations,
Stage # 7: Livigno
The last leg of the journey takes us to Alta Valtellina, to Livigno, the small Lombard Tibet . An ideal destination for every season, in Livigno it is impossible to get bored: from skiing to mountain biking, from trekking to horseback riding between Italy and Switzerland, to shopping, in Livigno you do not pay VAT . Due to the altitude at which the town is located (at about 1800 meters above sea level) and the position that isolated it for many months a year, the village is made entirely of wood and materials available in the mountains, a unique feature that will leave you with open mouth. Near the parish church, towards via Pamont, a delightful wooden structure houses the Livigno Dairy, which has been producing typical products since 1954. At 1,816 meters high, the Agricultural Society of Silvestri Giorgio & C. keeps the forage with which it produces Bitto, Primofiore, Scimudin, butter, ricotta and cheeses with an unmistakable aroma, made with milk from Italian brown cattle. For lovers of high altitude emotions in Livigno, at 2200 meters above sea level, there is the Alpe Federia with a farmhouse, which offers its guests not only the possibility of eating and staying but also that of visiting a real pasture and discover firsthand how the finest traditional cheese is made. With an hour’s walk through coniferous woods and flowery meadows, it is possible to reach the Agriturismo Alpe Mine, where animals are taken for the production of Bitto in summer. L’