Sondrio - Lake Livigno
Sondrio is a fascinating mix of different styles and eras.
It is famous for being a place where man demonstrated his ingenuity by creating terraces in the rugged land to cultivate the vines that have contributed to its fame.
Enclosed within the heart of the Alps, the province of Sondrio occupies the northern-most part of Lombardy. Lying at the mouth of the Malenco Valley, Sondrio is the heart of the Valtellina. Typical are the vineyards covering the foothills of the Rettiche Alps.For centuries, the lands on the northern slopes of the valley have been cleared of woods and rocks to build terraces to cultivate vines.
These remain an economic asset for Valtellina, but also a cultural asset. They stand as extraordinary testimony to man‘s ability in transforming a territory despite unfavourable local and climatic conditions.
Sondrio is replete with artistic treasures. The city centre includes Piazza Garibaldi with elegant, neoclassical buildings, the Pedretti theatre built in 1820 to the design of the architect Canonica.
Small roads lead from here to the old city centre, which boasts styles from different eras, Renaissance, Baroque, neoclassical, modern and contemporary, and from this spot, Medieval.... Castello Masegra can be seen, with a the panorama of the vineyards.
There are numerous castles and towers in evocative locations of great strategic importance such as the tower called “de li beli miri” of Teglio, Castel Grumello north of Sondia, Bellaguarda in Tovo di Sant’Agata or those of Grosio, to mention but a few. Then there are the shrines, such as the Beata Vergine di Tirano, the Madonna della Sassarella on a spur of rock between the vines at the gates of Sondrio, and many churches, which rise up everywhere and house real treasures, precious expressions of spirituality that create and interesting artistic rout along the Valley.
An important addition to the territory are the ski resorts of the “Skiarea Valtellina”: Alta Valtellina, Aprica, Valmalenco and Valchiavenna. A district with 400 kilometres of pistes for Alpine skiing and more than 200 kilometres for Nordic skiing in famous international resorts such as Livigno, Bormio, Santa Caterina Valfurva, Valdidentro/Valdisotto, Aprica, Chiesa in Valmalenco and Caspoggio, Madesimo/Campodolcino and Valgerola to which the summer ski resort of Passo dello Stelvio has been added.
Valtellina is also a summer destination, and in the warmer months there’s an explosion of colour in the numerous nature parks and reserves such as the Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio ,the largest nature park in Italy and the park at Orobie Valtellinesi with the Alpine ecological and wildlife observatory at Aprica, and the Nature Reserve of Val di Mello, a real haven for nature lovers.
Valmalenco is easy to reach from Sondrio and is the ideal place for excursions and mountain climbing. Its high peaks and imposing glaciers make it ideal for various kinds of excursion.
The valley is of glacial origin, very narrow at its the lower section which is divided into two parts: one side of the valley enters the Disgrazia massif and the other is part of the Bernina mountain range. The heart of the valley is the town of Chiesa in Valmalenco, a major ski centre of the region.
The Valtellina path is has a long, relaxing route that is a route for cycling and walking of almost 150 kilometres that crosses a large part of the valley bottom in the province of Sondrio along the course of the river Adda. This path is part-asphalt, part-earth and flanked by lush vegetation growing along the river, an area of great environmental value.
Sondrio offers many sports, from trekking to golf, from skiing to mountain climbing. The territory to the south of Sondrio belonging to the Orobie Valtellinesi park is ideal for trekking and mountain biking, while there is a beautiful golf course just 5 km from Sondrio in Caiolo.
Major ski resorts include the Chiesa inValmalenco, Caspoggio and Lanzada. They make up a tourist region that offers good hotel accommodation facilities and a proper infrastructure for sporting and holiday activities. The covered swimming pool, tennis courts and other sports facilities offer further opportunities for recreation and relaxation.
The Sondrio Festival is not to be missed, an annual international exhibition of parkland documentaries in October. This international film competition is devoted to parks and nature reserves throughout the world. Its key objectives are to spread knowledge about reserves and awareness of the importance of environmental issues.
The province also has spas, dating from ancient Roman times, where the health-giving waters can be enjoyed whilst admiring the splendid mountain landscapes. These spas include the Bormio spa, Bagni Vecchi, Bagni Nuovi of Valdidentro and the Bagni of Masino.
Typical products of the local gastronomy are Bresaola IGP, the DOP cheeses, Bitto and Valtellina Casera, the IGP apples of Valtellina, honey and mushrooms. The Bresaola is highly recommended for those on diets, since it is low fat. Also worth tasting are the sausages, salamis, bondiola and liver mortadella. Mushrooms are widespread in the Valtellina territory including the prized porcini gathered in the dense woods of the valley. The most renowned dish in the Vatellina cuisine is the pizzoccheri, buckwheat pasta with plenty of Alpine butter and Valtellina Casera cheese. A typical cake is Bisciola, also known as pan de fich, a type of sweet bread made with figs, nuts, raisins and dried fruits often cooked for Christmas instead of Panettone.
A fundamental role in Valtellina agriculture is played by the cultivation of the vines, especially remarkable given the difficult geographical conditions that require a particular problematic cultivation, the outcome of the labour of generations of men and women who knew how to transform arid rock in vine terraces where the famous DOCG red wines (denomination of protected and guarantee provenance): Sassella, Grumello, Inferno, Valgella, Maroggia and, above all, the Sforzato.
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