The identity of Valtellina in its lifestyle
Visiting somewhere also means savouring its pace of life. A journey through little mountain hamlets, folklore and tourist-centric facilities.
moves to the rhythm of its many traditions, from ancient customs
to folklore events, which have left their mark on the region.
Read on for ideas:
Far from the madding crowds of Europe’s metropolises, Valtellina has retained the collective imaginary and traditions of its agricultural and rural heritage, reliving them throughout the year. The pace of the calendar of events, many of which are designed for children, makes it easy for visitors to experience local customs and traditions to the full, starting with the Gabinat dell'Epifania from 3.00 p.m. on January the 6th. From Tirano to Livigno, on Twelfth Night kids try to say the magic word “Gabinat” correctly to win sweets and gifts.
At the end of January are L’è fora geneiron and L’è fora l’Ors de la Tana, also for children, who dress up with masks and parade the streets, ringing bells and rattling tin cans. Similar traditions are practised in Aprica, with the Sunà da Mars, and many other towns and villages also celebrate the Festa dei Sampugn or “the rising of the grass” to herald in spring.
The Carnival in February brings comedy and laughter, despite the frosty late-winter temperatures. The most famous of the local carnivals are the Carneval Vecc of Grosio, which stars a horned figure stuffed with straw that symbolizes the end of harsher times; and the Carneval di Mat of Bormio.
At Easter, Bormio is invaded by the Pasquali, allegorical floats (both religious and secular) that are veritable works of art, so lovingly are they decorated. On Easter Sunday, the floats parade through the town accompanied by characters in traditional costumes. People flock to see them from around Valtellina and beyond.
Each township has its own traditional costume and a spectacular selection is showcased in the Festa del Costume in Livigno, Valtellina’s “little Tibet”. In summer, villages and townships such as Berbenno and Sondrio compete at games in the entertaining Palio delle Contrade.
For those who love shopping, Valtellina offers unique retail experiences. One of the best-known is Livigno, a huge open-air shopping mall, with more than 250 stores set against the fabulous backdrop of the Alps.
Livigno is home to the main fashion stores, with exclusive and single-brand boutiques, quality bespoke oulets and those linked to both tradition and modernit; all cosecreted by the elite labels and with a vast assortment of the main brand names. One big advantage is the good value of duty free purchases (product limits can be checked).
It is worth stopping in Bormio as well for some retail therapy: its central via Romais packed with fashion boutiques. Stop in Tirano, with its shops in the old town centre, and in Sondrio, on a quest for glamour purchases or excellent food and wine products, accompanied by personalized advice from the local retailers. Finally, Morbegno and Chiavenna, with their lovely little shops and typical stores in their beautiful, pedestrianized old town centres.