Vacationing in Italy ~ Wine Trip ~ Scenic Hillside Vineyards of Valtellina
Triacca - LaGatta Estate in Valtellina
Valtellina Region of Italy
Natural scenery abounds in this northern region of Italy known as the Valtellina.
Consisting of a wide valley with the river Adda running through it and hilly to mountainous terrain of the Alps with Switzerland on its northern border, people have made a living for centuries in Valtellina with tending vineyards in this part of the world and growing grapes has been an important part of the economic life of its inhabitants.
My hubby was fortunate enough to have been able to experience seeing this spectacular area on a wine trip several years ago. The pictures shown in this post will be ones that he had taken while there.
Beautiful scenery in Valtellina! (Accompanied by music)
This broad valley is filled with small settlements of people who have labored over the centuries to create these rock lined hillside terraces for the growing of the grapes as well as other life sustaining crops such as maize, apple trees and other crops.
It was difficult work and most all of it was done by hand and by the sweat of their brow.
All of these hillside vineyards are located on the south side of the valley where the sun bears down upon the rocks, heating them up and providing the right combination of environmental ingredients to successfully grow the vines. The plentiful sunshine makes up for the low average annual temperatures which are typically found at these elevations.
Most often the best wines come from stressed vines, and the grapes growing in this rocky and arid environment of the Valtellina have become well known for their flavor profiles.
Interestingly, even though this more northern location of Italy right up near the Swiss Alps gets snow and offers mountain skiing as a winter pastime, plants like cactus thrive on the valley floor due to its east and west exposure. It is a rarefied climate with an interesting ecosystem.
Views from the Hotel CampelliClick thumbnail to view full-size
The photos above show the Hotel Campelli where for the duration of the vineyard tours in the Valtellina region my husband along with the two people from Russia, two from India, two from Korea, one from Sweden, one from Argentina as well as the driver, tour guide and interpreter stayed. My hubby was the only one from the United States on this portion of the wine trip which started out at a "MiWine" trade fair in Milan, Italy.
It looks as though it would be a great place to stay for awhile during a vacation in Valtellina. The lush plants and views from the hotel are beautiful.
I'll now show some of the photos my husband took as his group was introduced to some of the wineries in the Valtellina area of Italy.
In the photo above, the tour bus could not get closer than four blocks away from the Marsetti winery because of the narrow winding streets. The winery consisted of two rooms and produces only 4,000 bottles per year (as of the year 2006 when my husband was there sampling the wines).
Location of the Valtellina in Italy
The AR.PE.PE. Winery is located under hillside vineyards.
Part of the mountain actually intrudes into the winery and construction was simply done around the massive rock.
Large stainless steel tanks and chestnut wood barrels house the wines until readied to be bottled and sold.
Some terrific scenery in this video!
Photos from the Triacca - LaGatta Estate in ValtellinaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Triacca - LaGatta Estate
Those hillside vineyards viewed at the Triacca - LaGatta Estate are amazing!
It was originally built 500 years ago and was formerly a Dominican convent and a place of pilgrimage. It later became the De Gatti family summer residence (thus the name) and since then once again has changed hands and is now the home of the Mascioni family.
Now wine connoisseurs flock to this location where they can taste the fruit of the vines tenderly cared for and turned into a luscious liquid that would please Bacchus, the mythical Roman god of wine.
What a treat to be able to see something this grand in person!
Nino Negri WineryClick thumbnail to view full-size
Winery Tour at Nino Negri
From the smallest winery, the two room one at Marsetti located beneath a house, my husband's group would end one day of winery touring at the largest which was Nino Negri. It is owned by a large corporation which produces several million bottles a year.
Located in a beautiful fifteenth century building they were introduced to more of the acclaimed Valtellina wines many of which come from the Nebbiolo grape which is the predominant grape variety planted in that locale.
Signature Foods from the Valtellina
Naturally the guests on this wine trip were also being treated to the local foods from the Valtellina.
The signature dish of Valtellina is called Pizzoccheri and is a combination of buckwheat and regular flour noodles cut into a tagliatelle (ribbon shape) that is cooked and layered with a combination of Valtellina Casera cheese as well as Parmesan cheese, potatoes, Savoy cabbage or chard, garlic and butter. Sage can also be used for flavoring.
Another cheese from this region is called Bitto. There are plenty of pastures with grazing cows and sheep in the Valtellina supplying the residents with what they need to make these local products.
Other gustatory delights included the marvelous air dried and aged salted beef called bresaola that is served paper thin. After being introduced to it and coming back home to Houston, we have fortunately been able to purchase some of it here so that I could at least sample that flavor from Italy's Valtellina.
This by no means describes all of the local foods from this area but is a mere sampling. Suffice it to say, they were wined and dined on this trip!
Balera Winery in ValtellinaClick thumbnail to view full-size
The photos in this post showing different wineries are just a small sampling of what can be found in the Valtellina area. These next photos show the area around Bettini Winery.
Area around Bettini Winery in ValtellinaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Although there is some Italian being spoken in this next video, much of it is scenery with music. What can be seen includes some of the following:
- Helicopters transferring picked grapes from the vineyard hillsides to where they will be crushed and turned into wine.
- The spectacular Valtellina terrain as viewed from above
- People soaking in the hot springs located in the Valtellina
- Visitors enjoying sampling of the wines and more.
Vacationing in Valtellina
While I have shown some of the photos that my husband took while on his wine trip, what else might draw people to this Valtellina area of Italy if wine is of no interest?
Located just 86 miles (139 km) from Milan in the heart of the alps this mountainous terrain offers stunning vistas with a wide variety of flora and fauna.
These mountain hamlets with churches, palaces, towers and bell towers as well as other buildings going back many centuries contain treasures for those people interested in exploring.
Age old frescoes on walls, rock carvings from the Bronze Age, a fort going back to the first World War and even a place where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared can be visited for those willing to traverse roads with hairpin curves, or do some hiking and biking along paths some of which follow historic mule tracks.
Many lifts as well as cable cars transfer skiers to the tops of the numerous ski runs. Snowboarders can also have fun on these snow capped mountains in the winter.
Valtellina Orobie (some fantastic skiing footage in this video!)
How about some hang gliding?
Personally I think that I would stick to some hiking and perhaps soaking in some of the heated spa waters after a days excursion and sipping on some of the special Valtellina wines after dining on some locally produced food.
Part of the Valtellina is protected by the Stelvio National Park and the Valtellina Orobie Regional Park as well as some National Monuments.
For certain I would be kept busy snapping one photograph after another just judging from the photos that my husband brought home! The scenery is spectacular! How about you? Does this look like someplace you would also enjoy visiting?
Stelvio National Park
Does visiting Valtellina look appealing to you?
VALTELLINA (Shows historic centuries old buildings, the scenic valley, apple orchards and more in addition to the vineyards.)
© 2012 Peggy Woods