Valmalenco and Valtellina offer several activities for tourists. The secret for success is how to do them. Other than strolling around panoramic trails through the vineyards, we’ll show you the hidden roads that bring to crumbling villages or we’ll find the way out from a labyrinth path created by herds of deer. We’ll scramble on the rock debris of an abandoned mine as gem hunters or we’ll follow the footsteps of the old smugglers. For decades they broke their backs carrying heavy loads of tobacco and coffee through the border, some being able to feed big families, other spending every single penny in the downtown brothels.
Summertime we will hike on the “High route” touching the glaciers or we’ll pop in for a visit in a real farmers hut, where luckily you will not understand the blasphemies of the shepherds.
If you want to experience something more challenging you can try bouldering or climbing, on crags suitable for beginners up to professionals. The next door Valdimello is an international granite temple.
Non claustrophobics can rappel down a canyon on the Cormor river, an experience that words can’t describe or slide down the new zip line “Gola up” along Scerscen river.
For those who don’t mind early wake ups and long marches we suggest classic alpinism. The handshake in a balcony on top of the sky will make you forget all the suffering. Warning! It is addictive.
I am a mountain bike guide, I can suggest or join you in all the itineraries: easy cyclepaths for families, challenging dowhill trails or long sessions of portage. Heavy smokers will simply ride down to Sondrio along the “Sentiero Rusca”. On this road, four hundred years ago our archbishop Nicolo’ Rusca was kidnapped and carried, tied on the back of a donkey, in Switzerland to be tortured and killed by our Calvinist neighbours. The problem is that our ancestors took it seriously and overreacted a little bit: they solved the dispute by exterminating the whole protestant community of Valtellina. “Il Sacro Macello”. At this stage, after visiting the relic of the poor old fellow exposed in the cathedral, you can have a fresh glass of white wine in the picturesque “Scarpatetti” or ride on the “Via dei Terrazzamenti” trouhgh the Nebbiolo’s vineyards and have a genuine glass of red in the wineries.
Anglers are sorted: they can fish a trout from a stream where they can drink the water or from blue lakes that in summer can be used instead of the non existent pool of the house. We strongly recommend fly fishing no-kill.
In winter it’s easy for me to look after you: ski and snowboard, from snowplough to off-piste free-ride. If you are not really into it or you just fancy trying something new: country ski, telemark, bob-sleight, and ice-skating. Don’t worry mulled wine is always available. Snowkiting in Valmalenco is suicidal because of gusts blowing in all directions but in the region we have perfect spots.
Alpine guides and other professionals can assist you in the activities that might need it: my brother Michele is a mountain guide and ski instructor.
Now let’s try to persuade the gentle ladies: a century old thermal spa (Bormio), the Red Bernina train that takes people to the exclusive Saint Moritz (where you’ll need lots of cash) and the evergreen Como Lake where you can kitesurf overlooking snow-capped mountains. All within one hour drive.
Is it not enough? Rafting on the river Adda, 18 holes golf course in Sondrio (where as Bode Miller said “the only thing that has fun is the ball”) and skydiving. All within a 30 minute drive.
PS: People here around are not waiting to rip you off. You will live a real Italian experience: you might end up carrying the golden statue of the Virgin in the procession or gesticulating in a shebeen without having a clue of what is going on. Poaching, clandestine distillation and the last bench at the back of the church are still off limits for foreigners, that means anybody who wasn’t born here. Be careful ladies: if you sit in the left rows, you’ll be peered suspiciously by the old.
That’s all folks.