This is the region where bresaola (air-dried, salted beef) was first produced in the Middle Ages, so it’s a true foodie area. Doesn’t miss a visit to the Michelin-starred Cantinone. The egg cooked at 62C, with chestnut, goat Parmesan cheese and Sforzato wine vinegar is one of the most unusual and delicious starters we have ever tasted. It’s in the Sport Hotel Alpina and serves creative dishes that fuse the flavours of the Mediterranean with traditional Valtellina cuisine.
But our favourite restaurant is Dogana Vegia, situated in the town’s 17th-century customs house. In those days, an old mule-track led travellers from here to Switzerland via the Passo d’Emet. The customs house had a stable for horses and mules and served as a small inn with basic accommodation. Once the Passo dello Spluga opened in the 1800s, the customs point was relocated and the Dogana Vegia reinvented itself as a tavern serving food. And so it has continued over the years. The atmosphere today is cosy and friendly, with oodles of hidden corners, and the decoration gorgeous with roaring log fireplaces and antique objects collected by the charismatic owner. The vast fixed-price feast of a menu is 38€ including a local Grolla (shared pot of local liqueur) at the end. The extremely drinkable house wine costs just 12€.
Another choice is to catch the gondola after dusk, and go and eat up the mountain at the Larici pizzeria (+34 0343 55376) – you can then ski down by floodlights afterwards. Others include the historic Osteria Vegia serving typical local dishes in an 18th-century building. Locanda del Cardinello is inside the early 18th-century hotel of the same name. Ristorante La Capriata serves home-made pasta, and there is a good choice of pizzerias in town.