1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Valtellina
VALTELLINA (Ger. Veltlin; the name comes from the former capital, Teglio, near Tresenda), properly the name of the upper valley of Adda, in north Italy. Historically and officially, it also comprises the Italian Liro or San Giacomo valley, which extends from the Splügen Pass past Chiavenna (where the Liro is absorbed by the Mera, flowing from the Swiss Val Bregaglia) to the Lake of Como, the Mera entering this lake slightly to the north of the Adda. These two valleys (but not Colico, which is in the province of Como) form together the province of Sondrio. Pop. 145,265 (exclusive of Colico) or 122,466 (omitting Chiavenna). Politically the whole valley belongs to the kingdom of Italy, except the side valley of Poschiavo (Puschlav), which belongs to the Swiss canton of the Grisons (Graubünden). The chief town is Sondrio (7172), other important places being Tirano (5870), Chiavenna (4592) and Morbegno (3603). Near Bormio (Ger. Worms) there are some frequented mineral springs (sulphur and lime), known in Pliny's time, and efficacious in diseases of the skin. There are several other baths in the side valleys, such as Santa Caterina (chalybeate), Masino and Le Prese (sulphur).
The highest points in the ranges enclosing the valley are the Piz Zupo (13,131 ft.) in the Bernina group and the Königsspitze (12,655 ft.) in the Ortler district; the Monte della Disgrazia (12,067 ft.) is the highest peak comprised entirely within the water-basin of the valley. Four well-marked Alpine passes are traversed by good carriage-roads—the Stelvio Pass or Stilfserjoch (9055 ft., the highest carriage-road in Europe) from Bormio to Meran in the Adige valley, the Bernina Pass (7645 ft.) from Tirano to Samaden in the Upper Engadine, and the Aprica Pass (3875 ft.) from Tirano to the Val Camonica and the Lake of Iseo, while from near the top of the Stelvio a fourth road leads over the Umbrail Pass (8242 ft., the highest in Switzerland) to the Swiss valley of Münster, which is reached at the village of Santa Maria. The main valley is traversed from end to end by a magnificent carriage-road constructed by the Austrian Government in 1820–1825. A railway runs from Colico, on the Lake of Como, past Sondrio to Tirano, a distance of 42 m., while there is another from Colico to Chiavenna (16% m.).
The population is wholly Italian-speaking and Roman Catholic, the valley being in the diocese of Como. The shrine of the Madonna of Tirano (founded 1520) annually attracts a large numberof pilgrims. The valley, particularly in its lower portion, is extremely fertile; and of late years vigorous measures have been taken to prevent the damage caused by the frequent inundations of the Adda. Chestnuts, vines, mulberry trees and fig trees abound; and there are many picturesquely situated churches, castles and villages. The chief articles exported are wine and honey. The wine is largely consumed in north Italy and Switzerland, the best varieties being Grumello, Sassella and Montagna. Large quantities of honey are annually sent abroad.
History.—The political history of Valtellina is made up of the histories of three districts—(1) the “ free community ” of Poschiavo (first mentioned as such in 1200–1201); (2) the county of Bormio (first mentioned as a county in 1347); and (3) Valtellina proper, extending from the defile of the Serra di Morignone on the east to the Lake of Como on the west. After the defeat of the Lombards (774) these three districts were given (775) by Charlemagne to the abbey of St Denis near Paris, which never seems to have exercised its rights. In 824 Lothair I., confirming an earlier donation (803) made by Charlemagne, gave the churches of Poschiavo and Bormio to the bishop of Como. Bormio was in 1205 won by the men of Como, who in 1006 had received one-half of Valtellina from the emperor, and by 1114 they were masters of the entire valley. They retained Bormio till 1300, when it freed itself; but in 1336 it belonged to the bishop of Chur. In 1335 the Visconti, lords (later dukes) of Milan, became lords of Como, and therefore of Valtellina. In 1350 they seized on Bormio and Poschiavo, the latter being won back by the bishop of Chur in 1394, and again lost to the Visconti in 1470. As early as 1360 the men of Rhaetia made incursions into Valtellina under the pretext that it had formed part of ancient Rhaetia. This idea was confirmed in 1404, when, in return for kind treatment received during his exile, Mastino Visconti (son of Barnabo) gave to the bishop of Chur his share of the Milanese, including Poschiavo, Bormio and Valtellina. Relying on this donation, the men of the Three Leagues of Rhaetia (best known by the name of one, Graubünden) invaded the valley in 1486–1487, Poschiavo becoming in 1486 permanently a member (not a subject land) of the Gotteshausbund. This donation served too as the excuse for seizing, in 1512, on Chiavenna, Bormio and Valtellina, which were harshly ruled as “ subject bailiwicks.” Under the governor at Sondrio there were four “ podestas ” for the three divisions of Valtellina (Morbegno and Traona, Sondrio and Tirano), besides one at Teglio and one at Bormio. Mastino Visconti's donation was solemnly confirmed in 1516 by the emperor Maximilian I. In 1530 the bishop of Chur was forced to sell to the Three Leagues for a small sum his title to these two districts. At the time of the Reformation Poschiavo became Protestant. The other two districts clung to the old faith and came under the influence of Carlo Borromeo, who, when founding in 1579 his “ Collegium Helveticum ” at Milan for Swiss students for the priesthood, reserved for Valtellina six out of the forty-two places. Valtellina was extremely important to the Habsburgs as affording the direct route between their possessions of the Milanese and Tirol. Hence a great struggle, into which religious questions and bribery largely entered, took place between Austria and Spain on one side and France and Venice on the other. In 1603 Fuentes, the Spanish governor of the Milanese, built a fortress (of which traces still remain) close to the Lake of Como, and at the entrance to the valley, in order to overawe it. The religious conflicts in Graubtinden led to reprisals in the “ subject land ” of Valtellina. In 1620 (19th July–4th August)the Spanish and Romanist faction (headed by the Planta family) massacred a great number of Protestants in the valley, 350 to 600 according to different accounts (Veltliner Mord). For the next twenty years the valley was the scene of great strife, being held by the Spaniards (1621–23, 1629–31, 1637–39), by the French (1624–27, 1635–37), and by the pope (1623, 1627). At length George Jenatsch, a former pastor, who had been the active and unscrupulous leader of the Protestant party, became a Rom 1st (1635) in order to free the land from the French by aid of tie Spaniards (1637), who finally (1639) gave it back to its old masters on condition that the Protestants were excluded from the valley. In this way the local struggles of Valtellina came to be mixed up with the Thirty Years' War. In 1797 Bormio and Valtellina were annexed to the Cisalpine republic, in 1805 to the kingdom of Italy (of which Napoleon was king), and in 12815 (despite the remonstrances of the Raetian leagues) to the kingdom of Lombardo-Venetia, held by the emperor of Austria. In 1859 they became, like the rest of Lombardy, part of the kingdom of united Italy. Poschiavo followed the fortunes of the “ Gotteshausbund.” It became (after 1798) part of the Canton Raetia of the Helvetic republic, and in 1803 of the canton of the Graubünden or Grisons, which was then first received a full member of the Swiss Confederation.
See G. Leonhardi, Das Veltlin (1859) and Das Poschiavinothal (1860); Romegialli, Storia della Valtellina (1834–39, 5 vols.); C. von Moor, Geschichte von Currätien (1870–74); P. C. von Planta, Die currätischen Herrschaften in der Feudalzeit (1881); W. Coxe, Travels in Switzerland, &c. (4th ed., 1801; Letters 74–78); G. B. Crollalanza, Storia del Contado di Chiavenna (Milan, 1870); D. W. Freshfield, Italian Alps (London, 1875); Edmondo Brusoni, Guida della Valtellina (Sondrio, 1906); A. Giussani, Il Forte di Fuentes (Como, 1905); P. A. Lavizari, Storia della Valtellina (2 vols., Capolago (Tessin), 1838): A. Lorria and E. A. Martel, Le Massif de la Bernina (Zürich, 1894); E. Rott, Henri IV., les Suisses, et la Haute Italie— la Lutte pour les Alpes, 1598–1610 (Paris, 1882); E. Rott, Histoire de la représentation diplomatique de la France auprès des cantons Suisses (Bern: vols. iii. (1906) and iv. relate to the French in the Valtellina from 1620 sqq.); E. Haffter, Georg Jenatsch (Davos, 1894); F. Pieth, Die Feldzüge des Herzogs Rohan im Veltlin und in Graubünden (Bern, 1905); F. Fossati, Codice Diplomatico della Rezia (originally published in the Periodico of the Società Storica a Comense at Como; separate reprint, Como, 1901); L. von Ranke, History of the Popes, bk. vii.; and H. Reinhardt, “ Das Veltliner Mord," in Geschichtsfreund (vol. xl., 1885).