The Valtellina region of Lombardy is one of mountains and valleys, of scenic countryside and vineyards, to the north-east of Lake Como. Although there are several towns and villages here the Valtellina is essentially a region to explore and enjoy the outdoors and the natural environment.
As you would expect of an Alpine region of Italy there are several different facets to Valtellina including a popular ski station, traditional spa towns including the long established facilities at Bormio, high mountain scenery and steep wooded valleys.
The region broadly has a 'U' shape, with Sondrio at the bottom, Morbegno and Chiavenna in the western part and Tirano and Bormio in the eastern part. Switzerland is to the north of the Valtellina.
Chiavenna and the west: within the broad valley of the river Mera north of Como Lake the highlights are Chiavenna itself and the ski areas of Campodolcino and Madesimo
Morbegno: just east of Lake Como the Valtellina along the Adda river is a flat region of meadows and small villages with vineyards on the slopes to the side of the valley
Sondrio and the centre: continuing east, Sondrio itself is an interesting historic town surrounded by vineyards and orchards, and Teglio another highlight. Here you can also reach the high mountains around Mount Bernina, popular for outdoor sports all year round
Tirano and the west: the historic centre of Tirano is pleasant to explore and also starting point for the popular tourist train to Saint Moritz (see below). A land of quaint villages and unspoiled countryside of orchards and vineyards
Bormio and Alto Valtellina: the north-east of Valtellina is also the highest part and includes part of the Stelvio National Park and many very well known ski centres within the Alta Valtellina Ski Region such as Santa Caterina Valfurva, Livigno, Bormio and Valdidentro. It is also busy in the summer with cyclist, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts
Activities in Valtellina
Almost all regions here have numerous trails through the countryside - of course, these vary from gentle lowland walsk to rugged trails in the higher mountains.
A very popular way to explore the region in summer is to follow the cycle paths of Sentiero Valtellina (100 kilometres long) and Ciclabile della Valchiavenna (50 kilometres long). These are dedicated cycle paths maintained to a high standard that pass through a great deal of the most attractive scenery here, starting from Lake Como and following the Adda and Mera rivers towards the east and north respectively.
To make your life even easier the routes also regularly pass near train stations so you can take your bike in one direction and cycle in the other. See the official official cycle route map for more details of the route.
The cycle paths are both reasonably flat (slightly steeper the further you get from Lake Como) but if cycling is a bit strenuous another way to enjoy the countryside is to take the Red Train north from Tirano as it crosses the mountains passing glaciers and fast flowing streams, eventually continuing on to Saint-Moritz in Switzerland. This train route is one of the highest railway routes in Europe as well as the steepest -see Tirano guide for details.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Lombardy guide.