We had the chance to hop across the border and discover the culinary secrets of Italy. The result: a Livigno guide for foodies.
It’s an inherent truth that professional chefs, journalists, hobby cooks, and Italian nonnas all have an opinion about food.
In Switzerland, conversations at the dinner table will often turn into loud discussions about language and dialects. But our Italian cousins, on the other hand, will debate about the best way to cook risotto.
Indeed, that passion for food was a clear sign that we have crossed into Italy. On invitation by Livigno, Italy, we found ourselves in a different world. Up until 1952, this Italian town was completely isolated during winter. In the decades since, Livigno has evolved into an attractive destination for skiers, hikers, and: foodies.
Are you ready to indulge in our Livigno guide for foodies?
You would be pardoned for thinking that this valley between Zernez and Poschiavo is still in Switzerland. Those 3000-meter peaks surrounding the mountain town look all too familiar.
And with its proximity to St. Moritz, a playground for the rich and famous, you would think that Livigno is just as luxurious.
However, despite its high altitude of over 1800 meters above the sea, Livigno remains firmly grounded. Instead of five-star hotels and Michelin restaurants, you will find lots of places that celebrate the rich culinary history of this valley.
The local ingredients used in Livigno's dishes play a significant role in the town's cultural heritage. Dairy products and potatoes, in particular, contribute to the distinct flavors and textures of the town's cuisine.
Livigno's high altitude and cold temperatures provide the perfect environment for producing a wide variety of dairy products. From soft and creamy brie-style cheeses to tangy and crumbly goat's cheese, Livigno's dairy products offer a flavor experience like no other. These dairy products are not only used in traditional dishes such as pasta, but they also form the base of many of the town's most popular desserts.
Insider tip: while visiting Livigno, you will want to stop at Europe's highest dairy, the Latteria di Livigno. It sources all of its milk from local farms and produces cheese, milk, butter, and ice cream.
Here in these high altitudes, the poor soil is unsuitable for growing crops. But despite this, generations of the town's potato farmers have managed to cultivate high-quality potatoes with a unique palate. Potatoes add flavor to various traditional dishes of Livigno, including polenta and gnocchi.
Breakfast in Livigno starts with the TAST Project
Getting a sense of Livigno's cuisine starts at the breakfast buffet in many hotels. They call it TAST Project (no, there is no missing "E"). Treat yourself to a Leina da saor, a savory avalanche of genuine local dishes from Livigno.
If you like a sweet breakfast, you will need to try Bisc'cöt da Livign, Tórta da Rosina, and Tórta da l'indoménia.
And those in the mood for savory fare cannot miss Bondiöla, Brasc'carola, Pancéta, and Salam da Báita Pan da sèal.
Of course, there are also traditional breads like Pan da séal, Breciadégl, Pan da cól, and Pan da carcént. And finally, let's not forget the cheeses that come from cow's and goat's milk: Poina ricotta, Scimudin, Latte stagioni, and the mountain butter served during summer.
Ideal dinner restaurants in Livigno
After a day of skiing Livigno's wide and family-friendly slopes, you will have earned your dinner. Three restaurants that will not leave you wanting more are La Pòsa by chef Luca Galli, the gourmet restaurant at the Hotel Spöl, and the newly opened Kosmo Taste the Mountain.
In each of the restaurants, the chefs embrace local and seasonal products. There are various modern interpretations of traditional flavors, from beetroots to lamb and winter strawberries. The creative minds in the kitchen look for ways to make the food tell a story of Livigno's history, its unique location, and the people who live here today.
Beer and wine in Livigno, Italy
While you are bound to find great wines in Livigno's hotels and restaurants, the valley is too high for local wine production. Wines are sourced from other regions of Italy, namely Piedmont, South Tyrol, and Veneto.
However, there is a brewery in town, 1816 Birrificio Livigno, which also claims to be Europe's highest brewery. The brewery has its own pub that reminds of a western bar in the US, with peanut shells strewn all over the floor.
The brewers have cleverly combined the world's love of gin with Livigno's reputation as a smuggler's haven. I can recommend their original Contrabbando gin with local botanicals.
Unmissable food events in Livigno
Sunrise Mattias is an annual event in Livigno. This event invites early birds to nearly 3000 meters above the sea each March. Before breakfast, everyone is invited to take part in a brief morning yoga session to greet the sun as it rises over the mountains.
The reward is a morning meal of coffee, Prosecco, and innovative food creations. Sunrise Mattias is named after Livigno's first Michelin chef, Mattias Peri, who has significantly contributed to the region's culinary scene.
July brings the Sentiero Gourmet project. Walk a 5-kilometer path through the woods of Livigno, starting from Alpe Vago, and stop by numerous stands to try delicacies from some of Livigno's finest chefs and Valtellinese wine.
The Associazione Mattias also runs Mattias' Dream in September, a four-course sunset dinner served in a moving cable car. The evening’s art auction supports young people entering the culinary arts.