Tirano Italy. A tiny village with mountains of charm.

Any country that sells its classical music and reproductions of the Great Masters at petrol stations would usually be treated with scepticism. Italy is the exception; a country so enchanting that notions such as scepticism are as tired as the well-worn Euro notes you part with at the counter.

Travellers to Italy understandably feel duty bound to take home a piece of its soul. Even if it is a reproduction Giorgione bought at a petrol station in Arezzo. It’s also a country one easily can fall in love with. I did – by chance.

Bernina Pass Switzerland
The beauty of the Bernina Pass

From Switzerland to Tirano Italy. A happy accident.

One day, after succumbing to a  wine-induced impulse of which Bacchus would have been proud, I decided to take on the 2,328 metre Bernina Pass in Switzerland. On foot.

But I forgot to stop walking and – blistered, footsore and with a ball of wet papier-mâché for a map – ended up in Italy in a little town called Tirano. After the order, cleanliness and oh-so-charming floral window boxes of the Grisons villages in Switzerland, the crumbling buildings of Tirano made this Italian town near the Swiss border seem like a thorn among roses. Some thorn! I fell for it.

The many charms of Tirano.

Character oozed from Tirano’s colour-washed walls. A two-carriage red train click-clacked down the middle of one of the main streets. The peal of bells resonated from the campanile right through the valley.

Tirano Italy
The charming architecture of Tirano

From a pasticceria and bar, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafted tantalisingly out onto the pavement as I walked by, so thick that I tripped over it. Forgetting the heat for a moment, I could hear one of the most comforting sounds on earth: children playing in a distant schoolyard. I smiled.

Even before I chanced upon Tirano, the austerity of the Grisons Alps had given way to lush, sub-alpine meadows, churches of roughly hewn rock and jade-coloured lakes. By the time I stumbled into Tirano’s public square, the Piazza Basilica, I loved the place so much I was ready to stash my backpack and stay.

Amid the Renaissance buildings there was a bucolic slowness to life. Farmers from the surrounding terraced hills looked as though they had stepped out of a daguerreotype, a picture of yesteryear. The sight of laundry drying on balconies and children kicking a soccer ball in centuries-old streets and town squares was food for the traveller’s soul.

Close-up on a table of an outdoor Italian caffeReal food – risotto with shrimp and rosemary – came at a fetching little ristorante off the town square, a restaurant with well-thumbed menus and wooden newspaper holders on the rickety outdoor tables, keeping the breeze from turning the chequered tablecloths into spinnakers.

The walls were nostalgically papered in 1965 Campari posters. It was the sort of restaurant wealthy group-tour tourists never seem to find. Tirano soon became my Arcadia. It still is.

More Information.

Tirano Italy website.

Tripadvisor’s recommendations for Tirano activites.


If "it" involves red wine, smelly cheese, avifauna, photography, history, UNESCO World Heritage destinations, the outdoors, remote locations, big skies, blue water, white sand or red dirt, I'm into "it" and that's where you'll find me.

8 thoughts on “Tirano Italy. A tiny village with mountains of charm.

  1. What wonderful memories this piece evoked. Tirano looks and sounds amazing. My parents come from a tiny village in Northern Italy called Calvene and I still have fond memories of the surrounding hills and the campanile, the town square and bars, the wafting aromas of coffee from the cafes and the sense of community. Your piece brought this all back to life for me.


    1. Thanks Miriam. I haven’t been either. I will pass on those thoughts to Robert our author. I love the northern Italian Lakes region. I’ve done a lot of hiking around there. Such a wonderful area. How great that your family is from there!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it’s an incredible place. I first went with my parents when I was just 14, then eight years later on my own and then in 2002 with my husband introducing him to many of my Italian relatives. Would love to go back with my kids now but unfortunately it always comes down to the $$$ Still, I’m grateful for what I’ve seen!


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