Valtellina: Discovering the Italian Alpine Life

 The Alps are the highest and largest mountain range in Europe, and stretch across eight countries, including Italy, France and Switzerland. Photo by Krasnevsky

The Alps are the highest and largest mountain range in Europe, and stretch across eight countries, including Italy, France and Switzerland. Photo by Krasnevsky

In the northernmost part of Italy, bordering the majestic, snowcapped Swiss Alps, is a valley called Valtellina, long known for the quality of its produce and vineyards as well as the natural and cultural landscape. Historically and politically, the valley of Valtellina was situated in a prime location, since the pass running through the Alps was a key trading route between Italy and Germany.

Because the area was so sought after, the valley traded flags a number of times between foreign rulers in the wake of successive wars and rebellions—including Swiss, Austrian, Romansh and German—before finally settling under the orange white and green of the Italian banner in 1859. Though the region is now authentically Italian, it still shows the marks of its colorful and culturally diverse past.

The landscape is dotted with churches of different Christian denominations, medieval towns, baroque palaces, and even has some of the trenches remaining from World War I.

Though the beautiful, scenic, culturally vibrant stretches of this Lombardy region are ideal for sightseeing and peaceful escapes, Valtellina is also an extremely active region.

Scenic view of a typical town in Valtellina, a valley in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, bordering Switzerland along the Adda river— Photo by MattiaATHScenic view of a typical town in Valtellina, a valley in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, bordering Switzerland along the Adda river— Photo by MattiaATH

Owing to the dynamic terrain, the valley is well-suited for a number of widely popular outdoor sports. Skiing tops the list for obvious reasons, as Valtellina sits in the midst of some of the highest and most breathtaking mountains in the world (the region has even played host to different skiing tournaments and a few world championships).

In addition to skiing, a few other sports one might find in this outdoorsman’s wonderland are—but are by no means limited to—ski-mountaineering, hiking, rock-climbing, mountain-biking, horseback-riding, canoeing, rafting and hang-gliding.

Bresaola - typical from Valtellina (northern Italy)— Photo by coburn77Bresaola - typical from Valtellina (northern Italy)— Photo by coburn77

Much of the activity in the region however, is occupied by agricultural endeavors, and has become well-known for its wine, cheese, bresaola and other cured meats.

Bitto is a particular variety (a mild flavored, melt-in-your-mouth variety) of cheese produced exclusively in the Valtellina valley during the summer, when the cows are able to feed in the grasses high in the alpine meadows. Due to the natural drainage created by the ridge and the proximity to sunshine and fresh air, the slopes of the mountainous landscape are also ideal for producing quality wines such as Grumello, Inferno, Maroggia, Valgella and Sassella.

One place in particular that takes considerable care in the preparation of its bounty—from its inception in the fertile valley dirt all the way to the plates in their dining halls—is La Fiorida, a company specializing in agriculture-tourism. La Fiorida treats the cultivation of their land and care of their livestock as more than a process, but as an experience, and welcomes guests to share in that experience.

La Fiorida Luxury Resort and Spa

The mission of La Fiorida is one that strives to live in communion with the land they inhabit. Steps have been taken to ensure the proper treatment of the environment, and of course, of the wellbeing of their animals. Their homestead supports some 200 cows, 250 pigs and 80 goats.

The livestock are fed hay and maize which is produced by La Fiorida itself, cultivated on nearly 60 hectares of land in the Lower Valtellina. Visitors are able to tour the grounds where the produce and livestock are raised, and are even able to watch the cows be milked through windows in the processing area. The cows are not given additional substances to increase milk production, since this also increases discomfort for the cows, but are allowed to live naturally. “All-natural” is a theme for La Fiorida.

An open gate to a real farm, where the kids can see our animals (cows, pigs and goats) and learn how cheese is made

Sawmill waste is used to create thermal energy, and a fifth of the company’s power is generated from the solar panels on the roof of the cowshed. As much as possible, La Fiorida seeks to live naturally and in a very real way, merge with their surroundings, into the fresh mountain air and soil of their beautiful Valtellina.

Would you like to spend a week in one of the most picturesque areas of the Italian Alps? Here is what you need to do! Get “The Italian Gourmet Holiday Raffle” tickets to get a chance to to win 7-day stay at La Fiorida, a Luxury Resort & Spa located in the famous area of Valtellina. 

(20% will be donated to the “I Love Norcia” association to support the reconstruction of the town, dramatically hit by the recent earthquake)

 

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