The Best of Tirano Italy 2024: from Bernina Express to local food

Interior da Basilica de Madonna di Tirano.
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The city of Tirano is located in the Lombardy region, specifically in northern Italy.

It is a charming town nestled in the Italian Alps, renowned for its fascinating history, breathtaking landscapes, and distinct mountain cuisine that sets it apart from the rest of Italy.

Situated at the base of the Bernina Pass, Tirano serves as the starting point for the renowned Bernina Express train, which embarks on a remarkable journey through the Swiss Alps, culminating in the picturesque town of Saint Moritz.

If you are in search of the perfect blend of awe-inspiring landscapes, a vibrant cultural scene, and mouthwatering cuisine, then Tirano is the ideal destination for you.

In this article, we will embark on an exploration of the very best that Tirano has to offer. From the exhilarating experience aboard the Bernina Express to indulging in the local delicacies that epitomize the simplicity and delectability of Italian cuisine, we will guide you through every aspect of this remarkable destination.

Join us on this journey as we uncover what makes Tirano truly exceptional amidst the diverse Italian landscape.

Best Things to Do in Tirano Italy

Bernina Express com partida de Tirano, Itália.
Bernina Express departing from Tirano, Italy.

The Bernina Express is a renowned tourist train that offers a picturesque journey from Chur, Switzerland to Tirano, Italy.

Having personally experienced the Bernina Express, I highly recommend this unforgettable adventure in the heart of the Alps. For more details, I encourage you to explore the article titled “Bernina Express: An Unforgettable Adventure in the Heart of the Alps.”

While visiting Tirano, you will discover a plethora of captivating sights and attractions.

The Basilica of Tirano, a remarkable architectural marvel dating back to the 15th century, is a must-visit. Inside, you can marvel at the awe-inspiring frescoes created by Bernardino Luini. Additionally, the Tirano Museum offers a captivating journey through the history and culture of the region. Don’t forget to take a leisurely stroll around Piazza del Popolo, the vibrant main square of Tirano.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Tirano is a paradise surrounded by majestic mountains and valleys. You can indulge in a variety of thrilling activities such as hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. The area boasts numerous trails and ski resorts, including the Motta ski resort, catering to both alpine and cross-country skiers.

Tirano is also celebrated for its delectable local cuisine, a delightful fusion of Italian and Swiss traditions.

I highly recommend sampling the local specialties, such as pizzoccheri, a mouthwatering pasta made with buckwheat flour, and Bitto cheese, a traditional cheese from the Valtellina region. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor polenta taragna or relish a slice of luganighetta, a spicy salami hailing from the Valtellina region.

Top tourist attractions in Tirano Italy

Basílica Madonna di Tirano.
Basílica Madonna di Tirano.

Here are some suggestions for what to visit in Tirano, both in the city center and in the surroundings.

Bear in mind that the city itself is small, but it is located in the wine region, which is good news for wine tourism lovers.

Basílica Madonna di Tirano

The Basilica of Madonna di Tirano is the primary tourist attraction in Tirano.

According to legend, in 1504, the Virgin Mary appeared in this very spot and made a promise that if a church were to be constructed where the town had been afflicted by a devastating plague, the plague would vanish.

The townspeople faithfully erected the church, and indeed, the plague is said to have disappeared.

Setting legends and traditions aside, the truth remains that the basilica possesses its own unique charm.

As you pass through the grand wooden doors, prepare to be captivated by the resplendent marble walls and the presence of a venerable, yet impeccably preserved organ.

Visit city center

Tirano boasts a delightful historic center, typical of many enchanting Italian cities.

Although not sprawling in size, it exudes an undeniable charm. I recommend setting aside some time during your visit to simply indulge in the “doce fare niente” – the sweet art of doing nothing.

Take leisurely strolls through the narrow streets, soak up the ambiance, and embrace the relaxed atmosphere of this captivating historic center.

Tirano’s wine activity

Tirano is situated in a picturesque wine region adorned with rolling hills.

To prevent soil erosion, the locals have skillfully constructed terraces reminiscent of those found in the renowned Portuguese Douro region.

Walking along these terraces in Tirano, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the captivating landscapes of the Alto Douro Vinhateiro.

If you have an appreciation for this type of breathtaking scenery, a trip to Tirano is sure to delight you.

How many days does it take to visit Tirano, Italy?

Quintas nos arredores de Tirano, Itália.
Wine producing farm near Tirano, Italy.

When planning a visit to the charming city of Tirano, Italy, it’s natural to wonder about the ideal length of stay.

Considering the relatively small size of the city, most visitors find that two days are sufficient to explore the main tourist attractions.

However, despite its compact size, Tirano offers a wealth of points of interest to enrich your itinerary!

The first day can be dedicated to exploring the historic center of Tirano. Take leisurely strolls through the picturesque streets, admire the unique architecture, and delve into the rich local history. A visit to the magnificent Basilica of Madonna di Tirano is a must. This important pilgrimage site showcases a beautiful Baroque façade. Don’t miss the opportunity to also explore Palazzo Salis, a stunning 17th-century palace that now houses a museum.

On the second day, make sure to reserve time for an exhilarating journey aboard the renowned Bernina Express. This panoramic train promises an unforgettable experience as it traverses the Swiss Alps, passing through breathtaking locations. Departing from Tirano, the Bernina Express takes you to Saint Moritz, treating you to stunning scenery along the way. This round trip typically spans a full day, but every minute spent on the train is worthwhile.

If you have additional time at your disposal, consider extending your stay in Tirano to indulge in the outdoor activities available in the area. The Italian Alps surrounding Tirano are a paradise for hiking and mountaineering enthusiasts, offering a plethora of stunning trails to explore.

Ultimately, the duration of your stay in Tirano depends on your travel pace and personal interests. Whether you opt for a two-day itinerary or decide to linger longer, Tirano guarantees a memorable experience amidst its captivating attractions and breathtaking natural surroundings.

Is it worth renting a car in Tirano, Italy?

Renting a car in Tirano is worth it if you want to explore the region at your own pace! I use and recommend Discovercars for car rentals, as I believe they currently offer the best prices.

However, you know the drill – to get the most affordable car rental prices, it’s best to book well in advance.

Check out how much it costs to rent a car in Italy!

Gastronomy and restaurants in Tirano, Italy

Pizzocheri, prato típico em Tirano.
Pizzocheri, typical dish in Tirano.

There are several restaurants in Tirano, so it won’t be difficult to find one you like.

We chose Ristorante Ai Portici Tirano (Viale Italia, 87) and we really liked it.

We ordered bresaola (cured and smoked beef, in other words, a beef version of ham) and caprese salad for starters and for main course we chose the typical dish of the region: pizzoccheri.

The description and appearance of the dish may seem strange, but the food turned out to be quite tasty.

Pizzocheri is a pasta of buckwheat, potatoes, cabbage and cheese sauce. They are simple ingredients that peasants had access to when there were no supermarkets.

For the meal we paid around 15€ per person, which we thought was adequate.

Our experience in Tirano

Bresaola, charcutaria italiana.
Bresaola, Italian charcuterie.

During our visit to Milan, we couldn’t resist the allure of including a day trip to Saint Moritz, Switzerland in our itinerary, which led us to the captivating city of Tirano.

Initially, our primary intention was to experience the renowned Bernina Express train journey, which commences in this region.

Little did we anticipate that Tirano itself would be such a delightful revelation, solidifying its status as a destination worth exploring in its own right.

The city’s charm and allure left an indelible impression on us, dispelling any doubts we may have had about its uniqueness.

Accomodation in Tirano Italy

While our visit to Tirano was brief, we highly recommend considering an overnight stay to fully immerse yourself in the city’s charm.

When it comes to accommodation, it’s important to note that the majority of options in Tirano consist of apartments and local accommodations.

For a convenient location near the Bernina Express departure point, we suggest considering the Bernina Express Eco Rooms&Breakfast. This establishment offers comfortable rooms and a delicious breakfast, ensuring a seamless experience. Another budget-friendly option worth considering is the Holiday House Viola, which provides affordable accommodation without compromising on comfort.

If these options don’t suit your preferences, we encourage you to explore the availability and prices of other accommodations in the city. Tirano offers a variety of hotels that cater to different needs and budgets.

Please find below a map with the hotels in Tirano, Italy, where you can check for availability and make reservations:

Hotels in Tirano Italy

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