Valtellina, Alpine valley of the upper Adda River, c.75 mi (120 km) long, in Lombardy, N Italy, extending from Lake Como to the Stelvio Pass. The main towns are Sondrio and Tirano. The valley is a fertile agricultural region, known for its wine. With the adjoining counties of Bormio and Chiavenna, the Valtellina was seized (1512) from Milan by the Grisons, which subsequently ruled the district—its richest and most populous possession—as a subject territory. By the start of the Thirty Years War (1618-48), the stoutly Roman Catholic inhabitants of the Valtellina were ready for revolt against the Grisons, the majority of whose population was Protestant; in 1620 they rose and massacred their Protestant masters. These internal troubles quickly assumed European proportions, because the valley commanded the passages between Austria and the Grisons and Venice and Spanish-held Milan. The Valtellina became the pawn of the participants in the Thirty Years War and the victim of their complicated intrigues. The massacre of 1620 led to a series of military interventions by Spain, Austria, the pope, the Catholic party of the Grisons, France, and the Protestant majority of the Grisons (largely financed by Venice). The valley was sacked in turn by these armies and in 1627 passed under Spanish control; transportation of Spanish reinforcements through the Valtellina into Germany contributed to several victories by the imperial party, notably at Nördlingen (1634). When France fully entered the war on the Protestant side, a French army was again dispatched (1635) to the Valtellina. Henri de Rohan conquered the valley but failed to restore it to the full control of his Grisons allies. Incensed, the Grisons Protestants, led by the preacher-soldier George Jenatsch, secretly negotiated with the Catholic powers, who promised to restore the Valtellina to the Grisons if the French were expelled. However, Rohan, ill and weakly supported by the French government, had to evacuate the Grisons in 1637. By the Peace of Milan (1639) the Grisons fully recovered the Valtellina; it remained in the Grisons until 1797, when it was incorporated into the Cisalpine Republic. The Valtellina passed (1815) to the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom (held by Austria), and later it passed (1859) to Italy.

Valtellina or the Valtelline valley; (Valtellina, Veltlin, Vuclina) is a valley in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, bordering Switzerland. Today it is known for its skiing, its hot spring spas, its cheeses (in particular Bitto, named after the torrent Bitto) and its wines. In past centuries it was a key alpine pass between northern Italy and Germany and control of the Valtelline was much sought after, particularly during the Thirty Years' War.


The most important commune of the valley is Sondrio; others include Aprica, Morbegno, Tirano, and Bormio. Livigno, although on the northern side of the alpine watershed, can also be considered to be part of Valtellina as it falls within the province of Sondrio.


During the 16th, 17th and 18th century the Valtellina was part of Graubünden, which was then a country independent of Switzerland, but is now the easternmost canton of Switzerland. Graubünden is the area in which German, Romansh and Italian are spoken and hence during 16th century rule by Graubünden, the region was known varyingly as Veltlin, Westtirol (West Tyrol), and as the Welsche Vogteien ("Foreign Bailiwicks").

In 1797 the growing power of the First French Republic created the Cisalpine republic in Northern Italy. On 10 October 1797, the French supported a revolt in the Valtellina against the Graubünden (the "Grey Leagues"; Grisons in French, now a Swiss Canton) and joined the Cisalpine Republic.

In the region north of Morbegno in the Costiera dei Cech live a cultural group believed to descend from an 8th century Frankish invasion of Italy.

The area was originally a mix of Romansh and Italian languages but now Italian is the dominant language.

Industrially, the area is famous as the home of the world's first mainline electrified railway. The electrification of the Valtellina line took place in 1902, using three-phase power at 3,600 V, with a maximum speed of 70 km/h. The system was designed by the brilliant Hungarian engineer Kálmán Kandó who was employed by main contractors the Budapest-based Ganz company.


In Valtellina the wines are produced mainly by Chiavennasca (the local name of Nebbiolo grape variety). Generally the quality of the wine is high, and most wines have the appellation DOC and DOCG. The most well-known red wines are: Inferno, Grumello, Sassella and Sforzato (Sfurzat).


In the lower part of Valposchiavo, in Switzerland some wines are also produced, similar to the Italian wines, but with differing regulations (i.e. appellation and allowance of sugar addition, or chaptalization).

See also


Further reading: F Pieth: Bündnergeschichte, 1982, ISBN 3-85894-002-X

External links

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