Valtellina: A world to be discovered among the Alps

Valtellina: A world to
Stone Homes in Valtellina – AdobeStock_158226185
Valtellina – a place to love

Valtellina: A world to be discovered among the Alps.

Suspended between Lombardy and Central Europe, Valtellina occupies an entirely mountainous territory, from the Trivio di Fuentes at 188 meters, at the top end of Lake Como, and the peak of the Bernina at 4000 meters, offering a variety of landscapes and almost unlimited possibilities for mountain activities.

Its particular, rather irregular geographical layout and its great extent in both length and height offer a spectacular variety of countryside.

An old Valtellina village – AdobeStock_307002915
Valtellina: A world to experience, a long history

The long history of the Valtellina communities matured in this geographical setting, a history of stubborn clinging to the land, which still bears the signs of centuries of human toil, especially in the vineyard and the Alpine pastures,  but also the signs of political strife and profound religious beliefs, which left their mark in the churches, palaces, and monuments.

Valtellina: A world to
Polenta Taragna – Valtellina.it
Valtellina: A world to experience, the Cuisine

It is a land of ancient flavors. The authentic country cuisine of the Valtellina, like the natural environment in which it originates, presents dishes that are greatly appreciated by the most demanding palates: “pizzoccheri“, “sciatt”, “polenta taragna“, made with buck wheat flour, “brisaola” or “bresaola“, a type of dry salt beef typical of Valtellina, the unsurpassed quality of which is due to delicate preparation and perfect curing in unique environmental conditions; “Bitto” cheese, which bears the DOP (protected denomination of origin) mark and “bisciola”, a rustic cake containing walnuts, figs, and raisins.

Coronavirus, from Villa di Tirano valves for respirators thanks to the 3D printer.

Niccolò D’Oro Lambertenghi and Flaminio Luraghi at work for free to provide hospitals thanks to the technology of their start-up

Villa di Torano (Sondrio), March 27, 2020 – Brilliant and selfless. They are Niccolò D’Oro Lambertenghi and Flaminio Luraghi, both 38 years old. They decided to put their talent to work to give concrete help in coronavirus times. How? With 3D printing in their industry, Pyro & Tech based in Villa di Tirano, they make the valves necessary to operate assisted breathing machines for Covid 19 patients. The small start-up from Valtellina responds to the request for help from Italian hospitals, which in ever-faster times need spare parts for valves for respirators. It is the story of a hard-working and innovative Italy that works generously and in silence to guarantee concrete help. The two young people, already well known for having invented and patented internationally a special pyrolytic reactor capable of combining the advantages of a microgenerator with those of a biomass boiler (therefore generating thermal and electric energy for self-consumption), now they put themselves at the service of those in need again.

The Little Red Train in Tirano – AdobeStock_171180202

Tirano is the terminus of the Ferrovie Retiche, Rhätische Eisenbahnen, a narrow-gauge railway that goes to St Moritz, and then to Chur, through the Bernina Pass, at ‎2,328 m (7,638 ft). It’s more than 100 years old, it is often called The Little Red Train, and it is a UNESCO world heritage site.

«Last year we purchased a professional 3d printer just to be able to print some components of our Phyrohybrid, this is the name of the machine we invented that is capable of generating thermal and electrical energy for self-consumption or for distribution on the network or as district heating with the plus of electricity using different biomasses such as pellets, nutshells and more. All interfacing also with other renewable sources such as solar thermal, photovoltaic and wind – explain Niccolò and Flaminio – Having the possibility to do so we thought to make ourselves useful even in coronavirus times because it is right. Everyone must make their own contribution. Use 3D printing to produce goods needed by hospital companies and we are off. The valves are molded in Pla, in fact, a bioplastic (lactic acid polymer obtained by separating the starch from fiber and gluten, therefore biodegradable according to the environment), and then they are sent to a collection center that deals with sorting out to hospitals that need it. “

The two Valtellinesi have started their production in these hours and manage to produce from 7 to 10 valves per day. The 3d printing technology is, in fact, perfect for production in times of emergency because it is cheap and quick. “It seemed right to us to give our contribution completely free of charge in this difficult moment for our country and beyond” conclude Niccolò and Flaminio. The citizens liked their idea very much and to join them in printing valves for respirators also the volunteers of Sbrighes the project developed in the Tiranese area dedicated to young people and families.

Cows in the high pastures in the summertime – AdobeStock_223058845
My experience growing up in Valtellina during the summers.

The Valtellinesi, the mountain people living in the Valtellina Valley in the mountains of Lombardia, used to breed cows. 
Their entire family economy was centered around “the cow” usually one, maximum two for each family. In the summer the young people were taking the cow to the high pastures, gathering many cows from different families and attending to all of them at the same time in a communal effort. In September all the cows came down to the villages in a procession full of bell soundings, it was the beginning of the wintertime when the cow was back to the family stable. In a VERY old time, the stable was sharing the space with space where the family was staying, an inexpensive and efficient heating system. More recently, the Valtellinesi invested all the money they made by migrating temporarily to Switzerland as waiter or construction builders for building more modern stone houses, leaving the cows alone in the old place. They often rented the apartment in their new building for a month or two to the “Cittadini”, the people from Milan who came to spend the summer vacations of their children far away from the heat and the humid climate of Milan.

For years I spent my summers with my nonna (grandmother) in Chiesa Valmalenco, a village in Valtellina. Chiesa is at 1,000 meters high, it has several buildings with big windows without any closure: it’s the place where Bresaolas are stored for one year or more to dry with the wind coming down from the high mountains.
This is what makes “Bresaola della Valtellina” unique.

Some Valtellinesi emigrated further than a summer spent in Switzerland for a temporary job, they ended up in Uruguay and started doing what they knew best: raising cows in the Uruguayan Pampa. The economy of Valtellina changed dramatically with the advent of tourism: it’s a two hours drive from metropolitan Milan, cableway lifts opened the area to snow skiing and it was much better to be a ski instructor than a herdsman. And what about the cow meat needed to make the Bresaola? No problem, the Uruguayan Valtellinesi have plenty of it and started supplying the motherland Bresaola factories. They started also to make bresaola themselves, but they were, and are, missing the mountain air that is still a fundamental ingredient to have the right product.

During the summers I spent in Chiesa Valmalenco I become friends with the children of our “padrone di casa”, the Valtellinese that was renting us his house.
They were too little to be sent to the high pastures with the cows, you had to be at least of middle or high school age, we were all at the elementary school level.
We were playing in the woods building tree houses, but when we ventured into the open field there was always THEIR nonna ready to shout at us to get out immediately from there, the high grass was only meant to be used for the “fieno”, the hay: it was reserved for the cow, for the winter months

Valtellina’s the Southside of the Valley – AdobeStock_210639443
Other examples of high-tech in Valtellina contributing to the coronavirus fight.

Young folks in Valtellina started to go to the University. One of them was bored with a teaching job in Padua. He did what the old generations of people from Valtellina always did: he emigrated to America. Instead of going South to graze cows, he went North, to Silicon Valley. He started a successful company to sell professional software. Now almost retired, he owns a share of the company and goes every summer to Valtellina to visit old friends and parents. He posts on Facebook beautiful pictures of old places hidden in remote villages in Valtellina.

The generation that followed him did not even emigrate: they stayed at home. They started a high-tech business developing software and systems. Their latest development was an app for mobile phones to track the movement of the owner of the phone. Tracking lasts for one month. The health authorities can see where s/he has been during the previous 30 days. They can verify if anybody s/he has been in contact with has been affected if s/he is infected with the coronavirus, .
The app is distributed free of charge through the app stores. The Health Authorities in the region of Umbria, in central Italy, have already adopted it. They are proposing it to all European countries, and have already received a lot of interest.

Valtellina: A world to be discovered among the Alps
Some additional tourism destinations in Lombardy

William Dellorusso
Lombardia in Cucina: The Flavours of Lombardy

Milan-style risotto, pizzoccheri Valtellinesi, and pumpkin tortelli to start; casoeula, Milan-style cutlets, frogs stewed in tomato to follow, and to send, a slice of sbrisolona cake or panettone.
Lombardy surprises with the richness of its culinary traditions and natural ingredients, which modernity has barely affected.
"Milano in Cucina" captures this kaleidoscope of flavours, with contributions from some of the most celebrated chefs on the culinary scene, who pay homage to their territory, and whose skill is able to present a modern vision in keeping with the region's progressive spirit.

The Italian Academy of Cuisine
La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy

Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.

Milano in Cucina: The Flavours of Milan
The famous Risotto Alla Milanese gets its golden hue from the precious spice saffron. Legend has it that the dish came about when a Milanese painter decided to gild the risotto served at his wedding banquet with a harmless gold-colored dye. In Milan, they traditionally serve Risotto Alla Milanese with ossobuco (braised veal shank).
Traditionally made with raisins and candied citron, or with a creamy cream filling, the light, fluffy brioche-like bread called panettone may be tall or short, covered with chocolate or flavored with various liquors, but it’s always a symbol of the Christmas season.
With its hallmark domed shape, panettone graced Christmas tables in Milan since at least the 15th-century. Common knowledge claims its invention is from Milan. It is the most famous Christmas Lombardia food.

The Pax side of the Moon featuring Cesareo
Lombardia (Dicon tutti che sei mia) Quarantine Version - feat. Cesareo (Quarantine Version)

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