Sondrio is a city located in Valtellina in Lombardy, Italy. Sondrio is quite a small town and has only a population of approximately 22,000 inhabitants. Centuries ago, Sondrio was a military camp for the Roman Empire but the present day town was established by the Lombards. After the Lombard Empire fell down it became a part of the Holy Roman Empire and much of the region was managed from here.
The surrounding areas of the town are known for their terraced vineyards and many of Italy's famous wines come from this region. The town was given the title of "Alpine City 2007" and is only the third city in the country to receive this honor.
Getting to Sondrio
There are no airports in Sondrio so reaching here through flights can be a problem, unless visitors make use of airports in the neighboring cities and then drive down here. Sondrio can be reached either through trains or buses. The railway station of the city connects it to various towns and cities in Valtellina and even in other locations in Lombardy. Regular bus services are available in the city which connects it to the other locations in the region. Those who have a car can also drive down to the town since it is a much more comfortable option.
Moving Around Sondrio
Sondrio is a very small town so moving around the city is fairly easy. The best place to visit in the town is the historic center which can be easily explored on foot. There are narrow streets and alleys in this part of the town so driving around here can be a problem. Another option for visitors is to use the public transport system, the local buses. The local buses here cover almost every section of the town and the tickets are quite inexpensive. Those who prefer can also rent bicycles or scooters to explore the town and the surrounding areas.
Attractions in Sondrio
The Garibaldi Square is the central square of the town and the most interesting Piazza in Sondrio. Although the square isn't as large as would be seen in some other Italian cities, it is perfectly suited to the town's size. The Square is charming and is surrounded by some interesting historic buildings, some of which are quite old. The central square is where the most action takes place in the town and is often the meeting point for people.
Palazzo Sassi is located close to the Garibaldi Square and is quite an interesting palace. The palace was originally used as a private residence for centuries and has beautiful architecture with careful attention to details like in the carving and decorating. The palace is now used as a museum. The Art and History museum of Valtellina is located here and is one of the most interesting museums in the town. The museum showcases quite a lot of impressive artworks from noted artists of the region collected over the centuries. There is also a good collection of artifacts and objects that showcase the history of the city.
The imposing structure of the Masegra Castle is located on an ancient road that links the town to Switzerland. The castle is centuries old and is now being utilized as a museum. The museum of the Grisons Domination is located here. The museum is a good place that showcases the life and the history of the people during the rule of the Grisons in the city.
Sondrio is known mainly for its terraced vineyards so a visit to one such vineyard is a must while in the city. These vineyards are located all close to the city and are basically vineyards that are surrounded by typical dry walls on all sides. These walls have been protecting the vineyards for centuries and are on the verge of being included in the UNESCO's world heritage list. Quite a lot of Italy's important wines come from this region.
The Scarpetetti is the oldest part of the town and is definitely the most interesting too. This old quarter reflects the history of the town quite well, there are several old buildings and monuments, ancient churches and cathedrals, houses and villas that are centuries old in this part of the town.
Stay and Accommodation
Sondrio is a very compact town and is not yet a very popular tourist destination so you wouldn't get a very wide choice in terms of accommodation here. There are a few good hotels in the city; most of them are 2 and 3-star hotels. There are also some inexpensive Bed & Breakfasts and some family run hotels that are comfortable without being very expensive. Some good hotels in the city are Hotel Albergo Europa, Hotel Albergo Residence Piazzi House, Grand Hotel Della Posta and Sozzani Hotel Vittoria. Location is not very important because you would be able to easily explore the town from any location.
Eating in Sondrio
Sondrio has some good restaurants and pizzerias. The food here is mostly simple, rustic dishes and the best places here all serve home style and hearty Italian cooking as well as some dishes that are typical to this region. Visitors can also try the pizzas here, there are pizzerias almost everywhere. The desserts and the traditional pastries available in the town are also very delicious. No matter where you dine in Sondrio you would definitely get some good wines since the region is known for their vineyards.
Shopping in Sondrio
Shopping in Sondrio revolves around the shopping streets in the old quarter of the town and the weekly markets from where the locals do most of their shopping. There aren't many fancy stores in the town; however, you would definitely be able to find some interesting locally made products from the markets here. The best thing to purchase from Sondrio would be wine. The region is known for their fabulous wines and the best thing to take back home as a gift would be a bottle of local wine.