Valtellina is about 100km north of Milan in the Italian Alps bordering Switzerland, with a length of over 100 km . It can be reached from the south via Lake Como, while from the north there are several Alpine passes, most of which are open year-round. The Valtellina region is entirely Alpine, offering a variety of mountain sports and activities. The territory ranges in altitude from 200 metres at Pian di Spagna (just north of Lake Como) to the 4000-metre peak of Pizzo Bernina. Valtellina’s east-west orientation, unusual for Alpine valleys, offers a range of beautiful natural environments, from the rich valley bottoms, through the middle slopes, to the high mountain peaks. There is a large variety of wildlife, agriculture, architecture, traditions, customs and dialects. To get to know Valtellina, we must travel into the past.
The villages and small towns of the valley preserve extraordinary palaces and churches. These reveal an artistic sensibility influenced by the various cultures that have dominated these borderlands over the centuries.
Since ancient times, Tirano has been one of the most important economic and cultural centres of Valtellina. This ancient town still preserves three gateways from the city walls built in 1497 by Ludovico the Moor to defend the town against the Grisons (from Swiss Grigione), who nonetheless seized Tirano and all of Valtellina in 1512. Tirano is a traditional stopover for the many visitors who make their way each year to the famous resorts further up the valley: Bormio, Livigno and Santa Caterina Valfurva. Easily reached from Milan, Tirano is also linked to St. Moritz and to the Engadine valley by the delightful “little red train” of the Rhaetian Railway, which crosses the Bernina pass and has been included in the UNESCO world heritage sites in 2008.