COMUNITÀ MONTANA VALTELLINA di Tirano ITALIA
The land running along the River Adda between Teglio and Grosio is part of what’s called the Comunità Montana Valtellina di Tirano, Valtellina’s mountain community of Tirano. It’s a region that comprises the best nature on offer within the Alps, epitomising the transition from the plains to the peaks. The diversity of the region is successfully amalgamated here, and perhaps emphasised by the four main arteries that converge here: the road from Lake Como; that of the Stelvio, the Bernina Pass, and Aprica. Due to its privileged geographical position, this area can be considered a melting pot where history, art and culture merge.
The vineyard terraces on the Rhaetian side of the Alps that stretch from Teglio to Tirano are particularly interesting, with DOC and DOCG classified wines being produced to a high quality and receiving regular acclaim on the global scene. Local farmers also lovingly produce high quality Golden Delicious and Red Delicious apple varieties. Similarly, DOP classified cheeses produced on the high alpine pastures in the region are also hotly sought-after and highly appreciated.
The Italian communes on the DOPPIA W course
The crossroads of the alps
The slow city & the city of wine (450 msl, 9100 inhabitants)
Located on Valtellina’s valley floor and directly on the border with Switzerland in a strategic position that led to its fascinating and troubled history, Tirano has an impressive artistic heritage and culture, as well as alluring gastronomy and wine that has seen it charm all of its visitors.
Amongst its most fascinating sights, the Basilica di Madonna is a superb sacred building dating back to the turn of the sixteenth century after the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 29th September 1504. Of particular note is the colossal baroque organ with exquisite carvings that was begun in 1608 by Giuseppe Bulgarini from Brescia.
Equally as fascinating is the history behind the ancient defensive walls built at the end of the fifteenth century by Ludovico Sforza, known as ‘Il Moro’. Leondardo da Vinci has allegedly studied these architectural feats, although these days there are just three gates still standing: Bormina, Poschiavina (recently restored) and Milanese. The ruins of the imposing tower at the Castello di Santa Maria, known as ‘il Castellaccio’ and also built by Ludovico il Moro, is another must-visit whilst in the area.
As one of the Alpine towns that is most steeped in history, Tirano is also home to many historical buildings dating back to the 1500s and 1600s. There is a string of notable ‘palazzi’, of which Palazzo Salis is one of the most noteworthy, not least because it is a museum today and decorated with many frescoes and stucco. Then there is the museum house Palazzo d’Oro Lambertenghi, Palazzo Merizzi, as well as Palazzo Marinoni, a former Augustinian convent that is now the current town hall. Inside the elegant 18th-century Casa del Penitenziere you’ll find the Museo Etnografico Tiranese (Tiranese Ethnographic Museum) overlooking the Piazza Basilica.
Tirano is also the ideal starting point for stunning hikes or strolls in its unspoiled nature, or as a base from which to branch further afield and visit other historical or cultural highlights in Valtellina or neighbouring Switzerland.
The town is also renowned for its annual Sagra dei Chiscioi, a local food festival held each August, dedicated to the town’s typical dish of mouth-watering buckwheat pancakes served with casera cheese. On January 31, the sight of the ‘Tirà li toli’ will capture your attention and imagination as a raucous parade of children attempts to greet winter and reawaken spring. Alongside the regional cuisine, Tirano is also a hotbed of winemaking with precious cantinas producing fine wines.
Yet Tirano’s tourist offerings cannot really be topped by anything but a spectacular journey on board the Bernina Express, the pillar-box red train and UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. It departs from Tirano, scaling the Bernina Pass at 2,250 metres above sea level before dropping down towards St. Mortiz. Whether it’s the summer or the winter season, a trip like this is something of a fairytale.