Have you ever heard of the word “Crotto”? Wondering what it is? Or who is he, or where it may be?

Happy to introduce you to something uniquely and exclusively located in the Italian Alps, in the region of Lombardy.

A ‘crotto’ is a type of traditional restaurant found in the norther part of the Lombardy region of Italy, particularly in the Valchiavenna area of the province of Sondrio. Valchiavenna, whose main town is represented by Chiavenna, is easily reachable from Milan and Bergamo airports and is located just a stone’s throw away from Lake Como. The word “crotto” comes from the local dialect and refers to a natural cave or grotto that has been converted into a rustic taverna.

Crotto quartino
Pizzoccheri Chiavennaschi at Crotto Quartino

In a crotto, visitors can enjoy traditional local cuisine, including dishes like ‘pizzoccheri valtellinesi’ (a type of pasta made with buckwheat flour and served with potatoes, butter, cheese (plenty of), and cabbage), ‘pizzocheri chiavennaschi’ (tiny white handmade gnocchi seasoned with butter, sage and garlic), ‘polenta taragna’ (polenta made with buckwheat flour and cheese), and sciatt (deep-fried cheese balls). Meat and fish lovers will be served grilled meat, ribs and local sausages or trout.

Crotto Ombra Valchiavenna
Crotto Ombra

Crotti are scatterd in the hills and mountains surrounding Valchiavenna, many offer spectacular views of the surrounding landscape, valleys and vineyards. The cool, humid conditions inside the natural caves make them ideal for storing wine, so many crotti also serve a range of deep red local wines such as Sassella.

Crotti offer visitors a unique and authentic dining experience, with a rich but delicious local cuisine served in a traditional Alpine setting.

If you’re looking for the best crotti in Valchiavenna, there are several great options to choose from. Here are a few personal recommendations:

Crotto Ombra Chiavenna
Crotto Ombra polenta and grilled vegetables

Ristorante Crotto Ombra 

Crotto Ombra is the best known of the still existing crotti in Chiavenna. Guests will enjoy the simplest and most traditional  Valchiavenna dishes served in an original establishment that promises an authentic and memorable experience. Unmissable are the valley’s bresaola (cured meat), the pizzoccheri both in chiavennasca  and valtellinese style, and the mixed meat or fish cooked on the griddle – alla piotà. Located under the wall of a mountain, from here you can enjoy fabulous views.

Crotto Ombra, Corso Pratogiano, 14, 23022 Chiavenna SO, Italy


Crotto Ombra outdoor dining
Crotto Ombra alfresco dining

Crotto Quartino

This popular and traditional restaurant is located in the heart of Valchiavenna, a few kilometers from the town of Chiavenna itself.   The restaurant is known for its warm and welcoming atmosphere, its characteristic ‘crotto’ homemade dishes and view over the valley. 

Strada comunale dei Quartino, 5 23020, Via dei Quartini, 5, 23020 Santa Croce SO, Italy


Crotto quartino

Crotto Belvedere

This picturesque restaurant is situated in the hills above Valchiavenna and offers stunning views of the valley below and its River Mera. Tired guests can book a room in the restaurants’ guesthouse and extend their experience. 

Piazza della Chiesa, 23020 Prosto SO, Italy


Polenta taragna and stew at Crotto Belvedere

Overall, there are many excellent ‘crotti’ restaurants in Valchiavenna It’s worth trying a few different places to find your favorite, as each restaurant has its unique take on this classic dish.

How to get to Valchiavenna

Chiavenna and the Valchiavenna area are easily reachable by car from Bergamo (111Km), Milano Linate (127Km) and Milano Malpensa international airports (144Km) along a scenic route which takes you along the whole stretch of Lake Como.