A vintage walk inspired by wine

A centuries-old mule trail linking Austria and Italy passes through Switzerland in four scenic stages. The section between Pontresina and Tirano offers a mixture of high-mountain thrills and Mediterranean charm.

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1st day:
Pontresina–Alp Grüm (21 km): The route follows the trail of the mules and their drivers who once brought Valtellina wine over the Bernina Pass into the Engadin. This stage is demanding; a relaxing alternative is a ride on the Bernina Express, along the UNESCO World Heritage Bernina/Albula line. Just beyond the pass is the welcoming Albergo Ristorante Alp Grüm, with its sun terrace.

2nd day:
Alp Grüm–San Romerio (18 km): The descent from Alp Grüm leads along historic mule trails towards the pretty town of Poschiavo. The glacial mills and cauldrons of Cavaglia are an impressive legacy of the last ice age, when the Palü Glacier carved this dramatic landscape. For much of the way, the ViaValtellina follows the Rhaetian Railway’s spectacular Bernina line, declared part of UNESCO World Heritage in 2008. After Poschiavo the trail climbs once again to the picturesque alpine pastures at San Romerio.

3rd day:
San Romerio–Tirano (I, 12 km): The trail continues through pristine alpine forests, past rustic farms and along evocative smuggling paths to the Italian border. From tiny Roncaiola, the route winds through vineyards to the floor of the Valtellina valley – and the town of Tirano.

Highlights & tips

  • This trail often leads along the Bernina railway line, declared part of UNESCO World Heritage
  • The Ricola herb garden in Pontresina shows the 13 plants that go into making the famous herb drops
  • In Pontresina, the Hotel Albris is a good choice – as is its Engadin cake, popular for more than 60 years
  • Up at Alp Grüm, the Hotel Belvedere makes a relaxing stopover, serving local specialities
  • The spiral viaduct in Brusio, built to enable trains to gain height quickly, is a famous landmark
  • Restaurants of the region serve the famous Valtellina wine that gave the route its name

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