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Valchiavenna: land of potholes, soapstone pots and of wind-dried meats


Surrounded by steep mountains, the Valchiavenna is a paradise for hikers and mountain sports enthusiasts. Following its paths, it is possible to discover ancient summer pastures, pools, waterfalls and the well-known "giants' cauldrons", or potholes - enormous holes dug out of the rocks and smoothed over millennia by the raging torrents; you will come across the soapstone quarries, their material still used today to make the cooking pots and slabs used for the preparation of foods "al lavécc". Then there are the ancient country buildings: the "graa", small wooden structures used to smoke chestnuts, the "toorc", a wine press for the grapes, the "casel del lac", mountain huts built for storing milk - all these recount the stories of the past as you proceed along the route.

At the bottom of the valley is Chiavenna, a town for an overnight stay, whose historic city centre is well preserved and has many interesting features: there is the renaissance collegiate church of San Lorenzo, the soapstone monolith baptistry, the Pretorio palace and the interesting portals dating back to 1700.  We can visit the medieval palace, "Cort di asen", see the 16th century pillory and then move on to the evocative ancient houses along the Mera river and the Palazzo Vertemate, a prestigious renaissance residence.

After so much sightseeing, it is time to reenact past times by eating in a "crot", a natural cavity in the rocks, which has been a place where people would meet to hold convivial gatherings since the early 13th century. Still today, some of these serve as trattorie where you can enjoy the pleasures of the local genuine, simple but tasty cuisine: Pizzoccheri, Taiadin di Villa (chestnut-flour tagliatelle), the Zuppa De formentin, (a chestnut soup), Polenta conscia (polenta with cheese), and castegn suc (chestnuts cooked in milk with bay leaves) - these are just few examples of the wide variety of "primi". For the "secondo", you could choose from a capretto in sguazet (a thick stew of slow-cooked kid), the salmì,(ragout of game), the costine al lavécc, (pork ribs cooked in a stone pot) or the various cold meats: Bresaola, the 'violin' of wind-dried meat (so called because of the way it is cut, as if drawing a bow across the instrument); then there are the cheeses, the cakes: Biscotin De Prost, or Panfoort (a brittle spicy cake, candied and made with nuts), or Pan De sambuch (small focacce with elderflowers). Everything accompanied by the excellent Valtellina wines (Sassella, Grumello, Inferno, Valgella, Sforzato).


One-day or two-day trips are scheduled.


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