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Valtellina - Valtellina
The Valtellina near Tirano

The Valtellina near Tirano

location Lombardy , Italy
Waters Adda
Mountains Ortler Alps , Livigno Alps , Bernina Alps , Bergamasque Alps
Geographical location 46 ° 10 '0 "  N , 9 ° 52' 0"  E Coordinates: 46 ° 10 '0 "  N , 9 ° 52' 0"  E
Map of Valtellina - Valtellina
Template: Infobox Glacier / Maintenance / Image description missing

The Valtellina ([ vɛlt'li: n ] or [ fɛlt'li: n ] (especially Swiss.), Italian Valtellina , Lombard Valtulina , Rhaeto-Romanic Vuclina ? / I ) is the valley of the Adda with its side valleys in northern Italy on the border to Switzerland . Audio file / audio sample

The name is probably derived from Tellius, today's Teglio , an old village in the middle of the valley.

Location and geography

The Valtellina is part of the Italian region Lombardy and specifically the province of Sondrio . It starts in the Northeast in the boiler of Bormio and ends with the mouth of the Adda in the Lake Como . The Valtellina consists of two very different parts: The upper Valtellina is a narrow, steep valley that runs mainly in a southerly and southwestern direction. From around Tirano onwards, the lower Valtellina runs broadly and almost without a gradient in a westerly direction.

According to the Alpine Association of the Eastern Alps , the Upper Valtellina is bordered by the Ortler Group in the east and the Livigno Alps in the west, while the Lower Valtellina is bordered by the Bernina Group in the north and the Bergamasque Alps in the south . According to SOIUSA, the area on the orographic right side of the valley is part of the Western Rhaetian Alps and the orographic left side of the valley in the north is part of the Southern Rhaetian Alps and from the Apricapass to the Bergamasque Alps.

The lower Valtellina is part of the large fault ( periadriatic seam ) that separates the (central) Eastern Alps from the Southern Alps .

From the upper Valtellina the Stilfser Joch leads to South Tyrol , the Passo di Gavia to Valcamonica , the Umbrailpass to the Münstertal , the Passo di Fraele to the Lower Engadine and the Passo di Foscagno to Livigno . The Apricapass lead from the lower Valtellina into Val Camonica (and further over the Tonalepass into Trentino ), the Berninapass into the Upper Engadin and the Murettopass into Bergell .

The main town is Sondrio , other important places are Morbegno , Tirano , Chiavenna and Bormio .

Valtellina, seen from the Piazzola Alp ( Sondrio ).

Local authorities


The noble lords in Graubünden in the 14th century
The Free State of the Three Leagues with the subject areas in Valtellina


The Valtellina was settled by Celtic , Ligurian and Etruscan tribes in ancient times. The Roman writers Virgil , Martial and Pliny the Elder. J. there are references to the pre-Roman settlement of the valley. Viticulture is said to have come to the area with the Ligurians.

middle Ages

In the early Middle Ages , Lombards also settled in the Valtellina, as archaeological finds show. The valley then passed in the 8th century through a donation by Charlemagne to the Abbey of St. Denis near Paris . The majority of the sovereignty remained with the Bishop of Como . The valleys of Chiavenna , Poschiavo and Bormio , however, were disputed between the bishops of Como and Chur . In the name of the bishops of Chur , the Lords of Matsch exercised the power of bailiff there.

In 1335 the Como area fell to the Duchy of Milan . By 1348, Milan also secured the entire Valtellina, including Chiavenna, Bormio and Poschiavo. The latter valley community joined the Church of Gods League in 1408 and thus became part of the Free State of the Three Leagues.

The Graubünden rule after 1512

As early as 1486 the Drei Bünde tried to gain control of the Valtellina. It was not until 1512 that they succeeded in conquering the three valleys of Chiavenna, Valtellina and Bormio in the course of the Swiss wars in Milan , which subsequently became a subject of the Free State of the Three Leagues. This was a place facing the old Swiss Confederation . The Italian subject areas were divided into the bailiwicks of the Addatales Morbegno , Traona , Teglio , Tirano , Bormio (Worms) as well as Chiavenna (Cläven) and Piuro (Plurs).

The three valleys Chiavenna, Valtellina and Bormio traditionally had different rights and freedoms. The people of Graubünden committed themselves to respect the self-government of the valley, the Veltliner Talrat, and to adhere to the regional statutes. Bormio had the most autonomy, where only the administration was in the hands of the Bündner officials, while the Valtellina had the least rights, where the entire jurisdiction and administration were in the hands of the Three Leagues. The subjects did not form a unity vis-à-vis the rulers, not even in terms of sentiments, because the different privileges repeatedly gave rise to envy and intrigue.

The central administration of the Bündner Unterlande was in the hands of a governor ( governor or governor ) who resided in Sondrio together with the cavalier (Weibel and leader of the police team) and a vicar ( vicari ; civil judge in Sondrio and investigating judge in all districts except Chiavenna) . In Bormio and Chiavenna as well as in the individual Terzieri des Valtellina a potentate (Podestà) exercised the power of rule of the leagues, which was subordinate to the governor. In Chiavenna they were called Commissari and in Plurs Praetor . There was also the syndicature , a business auditing and appeals authority, with three members per federal government and one president. All these officials were elected by the Bundestag of the Three Leagues, but they were paid by the subject countries. The only taxes that were collected by the Graubünden during this time were used to cover administrative costs. The Three Leagues were only entitled to levy extraordinary fees in emergencies. In addition, there were of course the taxes of the individual communities, which served to cover the infrastructure costs. However, the Graubünden landowners were explicitly exempt from such taxes.

The local nobility, who had occupied the administration during the time of the Milanese rule, did not completely disappear from the political stage, because the lower posts of the administration remained his domain, as well as the levels of self-government of the valley, the Terzieri and the municipalities.

The Bündner turmoil

When Milan became part of the Habsburgs in 1535, the Valtellina acquired the highest strategic importance for the then world power Habsburg as a connection between Tyrol and northern Italy. Accordingly, the Habsburgs tried several times to re-annex the Valtellina to Milan and thus to their sphere of influence. During the Reformation , the Valtellina remained mostly Catholic, while the Reformation spread in some parts of the Three Leagues. In particular, the Italian-speaking valleys of Bergell and Poschiavo were a center of Italian-language propaganda for the Reformation. The resulting denominational conflict between Catholic subjects and Reformed Graubünden lords tried to harness the Catholic Habsburgs, especially during the Thirty Years' War . In the " Veltliner Mord " in 1620 around 600 Protestants were murdered in the Valtellina, thus stopping and pushing back the Reformation. The Bündner then lost control of the rebellious Valtellina to Spain by 1639. After the Grisons switched to the Habsburg side, the Spaniards gave them the Valtellina back. The Swiss poet Conrad Ferdinand Meyer deals with these arguments in his novel “ Jürg Jenatsch ”.

The Valtellina as part of Italy since 1797

The Bündner rule ended in 1797 when Napoleon added the Valtellina to the newly founded Cisalpine Republic . By the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Valtellina was transferred to the newly founded Lombard-Venetian Kingdom , which was linked in personal union with the Austrian Empire . A union of the Valtellina with Graubünden failed for various reasons. For one thing, the great powers, especially Austria, were not interested in handing over the strategically important area. On the other hand, the people of Graubünden could not agree to offer the Veltliners to enter the canton of Graubünden as an equal country for fear that the Italian and Catholic elements would become too powerful in Graubünden. For the Veltliners, a connection to Switzerland was only possible as an independent canton or as an equal part of Graubünden. The loss of the Valtellina was lamented in Graubünden well into the 20th century. In 1859 Valtellina and Lombardy fell to Sardinia-Piedmont and in 1861 to the newly founded Kingdom of Italy .

Recent events

In the last weeks of the Second World War, Benito Mussolini , like Adolf Hitler , planned to retreat to an Alpine fortress for the last contingent. Mussolini planned the Valtellina for this.

On July 28, 1987, a landslide broke out on the eastern flank of Pizzo Copetto (Grosina Alps) , which buried the village of San Antonio Morignone, claimed 27 lives and temporarily dammed the Adda . Since then, the valley floor has been buried for several kilometers. State road 38 was moved into the mountain.



The Rhaetian Railway ( Bernina Railway ) runs from Tirano to the Swiss Poschiavo and on to the Upper Engadine. A line from Trenitalia (subsidiary of Gruppo FS ) runs on the former Valtellina Railway via Sondrio and Lecco to Milan or Bergamo and via Sondrio to Chiavenna. The high mountains offer mountaineers a wide range of options. There are several winter sports resorts in Valtellina, including Bormio , Chiesa in Valmalenco and Caspoggio . The Val Masino is interesting for climbers (Bergell granite).

Of particular importance is the Park of Rock Art in Grosio , an archaeological park with a large rock (Rupe Magna) with more than 5,000  rock carvings  ( petroglyphs ) from the 4th – 1st centuries. Millennium BC Christ is provided.


The Veltlin has given its name to several grape varieties (→ Veltliner ). The wine of the Valtellina, the Valtellina , has been made for centuries from the Nebbiolo grape, which mainly grows in the extensive vineyards of the middle and lower Valtellina . The quality of this red wine (but there are also rosés and white wines), which is produced in different strengths and flavors, is very high. The Rosso di Valtellina DOC is a quality wine for everyday life. The well-known top locations are marked as DOCG Valtellina Superiore and may bear the names of the sub-zones: Valgella , Inferno , Grumello , Sassella , Maroggia . The Sforzato DOCG is a type of straw wine that is enjoyed on festive occasions. In addition to being consumed in the valley itself, the wine is mainly exported to Switzerland and is still the national drink in Graubünden for social as well as dignified occasions. The slightly bitter Veltliner goes best with red meat but also with dried meat such as Bündnerfleisch , Bresaola , Salsiz , bacon , salametti, mortadella , etc., which are all specialties of the Veltlin.


  • Florian Hitz / Ludmila Seifert-Uherkovich: The Veltliner administration in: The speaker houses in Luzein - architectural monuments as witnesses of family and regional history. Punktum, Zurich 2008; ISBN 978-3-9523577-2-9
  • Guido Scaramellini: Valtellina. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  • Alessandro Pastore: Nella Valtellina del tardo Cinquecento. Fede, cultura, società. Viella, Roma 2015.

Web links

Commons : Valtellina  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Valtellina. Duden editorial team, accessed on October 9, 2015 .
  2. Florian Hitz / Ludmila Seifert-Uherkovich: The Veltliner Verwaltung in: The speaker houses in Luzein - architectural monuments as witnesses of family and regional history. Punktum, Zurich 2008
  3. Hellmut Völk (1989) The landslide catastrophe in the Valtellina 1987. The geosciences 7 (1) , 1-9, doi : 10.2312 / GEOWISSENSCHAFTEN.1989.7.1 .