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Valtellina is a valley with several offshoot spurs in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, bordering Switzerland. Today it is known for its ski center, hot spring spas, bresaola, cheeses, and wines. In past centuries it was a key alpine pass between northern Italy and Germany and control of the Valtellina was much sought after, particularly during the Thirty Years’ War. From an American perspective, it’s a fairly obscure location and a pleasant surprise for that reason (though it’s certainly on the Italian radar, a major destination for visitors from Milan). We’re told it gets crowds in winter and summer, popular for hiking and mountain biking.

It’s very pretty – craggy peaks up the valley, and lower areas lined with vineyards. We were surprised by the sizes of the towns, quite substantial, and in very good repair. It’s an area of stone buildings (“Sasso”), making for a lovely backdrop to the mountain views. We skiied well, ate well, and found everything very friendly and quite affordable.

Chiesa In Valmalenco

Right at the foot of the ski lift, I’d strongly recommend Chiesa – cute shopping district, lots of houses to rent and nice hotels, good selection of restaurants, and extremely easy lift access. Our hotel, **Hotel Tremoggia, looked to be the nicest in the area, and we did like it. There’s parking, they shuttle you directly to the lift (and have a ski room on the mountain for guests), rooms are comfortable, there’s a large lounge with a fireplace, and they have a resident dog and cat. Drinks were good, food was variable (good breakfast, our dinner choices ranged from okay to excellent), service very good. Spa is small, but it has a two-person sauna and a body temperature soaking tub.

**Ristorante Malenco was great – very authentic, family run, fine dining setting. It’s very Italian 1980, with pink decor and bright lighting. Good local wine list, and menu of foods of the region. It’s all very rich. Very reasonable prices.

**Valmalenco Ski Area: obscure location, well above average scenery, very steep, long groomers. Fairly low with top peak at 2300m, no Pomas. Inexpensive (€48 day pass, 2023), tons of Milenese, no Americans. Very pleasant, and at the prices of the area a good choice for families or groups looking for a long ski weekend. **La Güsa….Can Marion, on the slopes, was so good we went back the second day – get the sausage with mashed potatoes and sage/butter sauce.

Sondrio

Sondrio spans a river valley and is flanked by two overlooking castles. It’s worth an hour to walk around, with a cute historic district featuring narrow streets, a grand tower, and several churches. Central Garibaldi Square is impressive, on a significant scale. It’s clean and well-preserved, but didn’t feel like it had enough to justify a long stop – we were happy staying 20 minutes up the valley instead.

On the outskirts of Sondrio, **Ristorante Trippi was worth the detour. A Michelin Bib Gourmand, it has the feel of a family run restaurant with a long history, and emphasis on foods of the region, carefully prepared. Everything we had was quite good.

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https://www.in-lombardia.it/en/tourism-in-lombardy/tourism-sondrio

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