Morbegno in Cantina: a delightful event differently organised. A provocative title of mine, which I repeat to emphasise the concept of differently organised. But let's go in order: what is Morbegno in Cantina? I quote the event's official website:

Morbegno in Cantina is the event that guides you to discover the typical flavours of our valley and at the same time takes you back in time, within the walls of the old cellars in the historic centre, among aristocratic residences and centuries-old churches, in a maze of narrow streets where one can stroll unhurriedly, with a glass of exquisite wine in hand. Now in its twentieth year, with almost half a million visitors overall, it is one of the most important events of the autumn season in the province of Sondrio. Indulge yourself and enjoy the excellence of Valtellina's food and wine tradition in one of the region's most fascinating villages, where time seems to stand still.

I absolutely agree with this description. And, the problem, lies in the place: "within the walls of the old cellars in the historic centre'.

I know that some people are already challenging me on the fact that this is a wine blog and that we are talking about wine and the world of wine, but honestly, where is it written that a person in a wheelchair, a disabled person, cannot be passionate about wine? Even I, who was lucky enough to be born with two working legs, could end up in a wheelchair one day: all it takes is a motorbike accident or a fall from a ski (when in doubt, I don't ride or ski, but that's certainly not enough to avert the possibility). We are not invincible. Our bodies are not immortal. We are not superheroes or angels with the gift of healing. TV has convinced us that our concern is to have big tits, a small ass or a sculpted abdomen. These are nice things, of course, but they are bullshit! Our concern must be to have a healthy body with two legs that work.


So, before I tell you about Morbegno in the cellar, let me tell you why the event is differently organised:

  1. wine is served in the city's historic cellars, some of which can only be reached after an advanced speleology course... 😀 all joking aside, we are talking about very narrow tunnels, with very slippery uneven stone steps, and walking on large pebbles in conditions of very poor visibility. The difficulty of climbing up and down into the cellars creates very long queues of people... we are talking about 1-2 hours of queuing per entrance (there are 9 entrances... impossible to do them all in one day and I think this should be signposted... but perhaps people have become so used to the Expo pavilions that they don't even notice it anymore...). In addition, the event is not accessible to those with mobility difficulties, and I'm not just talking about wheelchairs... all it takes is a slight discomfort to be unable to attend. Since there is an online ticket pre-sale, how does it work? A participant arrives in Morbegno and has paid 25 € for a pass, petrol, motorway, hotel, parking... and then discovers that he cannot taste anything. Does the organising body pay him and reimburse him for all the trouble? Granted that I find it inconceivable that in 2015, in a civilised people, there are still events with such large architectural barriers, at least have the decency to point this out in all the event's information and publicity material so that those who cannot participate do not have to waste time and money and set their hearts at rest right away! Ah, of course this also applies to all those not equipped with high-performance rubber soles with non-slip!
  2. As Francesco, who in life carries out and coordinates rescue operations in and around Milan, pointed out to me, if someone falls on the difficult descent to the cellars and gets hurt, how does it work? In the last cellar we even had to face the ascent in the dark because the electrical connections were so improvised and precarious that they blew. Imagine climbing up these dark, narrow tunnels with uneven, smooth stone steps, large stones here and there, glass glasses in your hand... and if you get hurt, good luck! Where you are you stay! So, apart from the architectural barriers for the disabled, no provision has been made to make the paths safe. So... be careful and don't fall!
  3. In the red itinerary that we did, it said 'In combination with tasty samples of typical products: cold meats, cheeses and desserts'. So why do I have to find 2 invisible pieces of bread with something on them or a microscopic cube of cheese included in the price and the rest paid for? I guarantee that, given the tastings, it was better not to write anything down. Also because on some of the routes we found ourselves in associations that offered cheap samples while asking you for donations for just and important causes but out of place in that context... or others who, after presenting you with a plate with cubes of bresaola so small that after countless attempts to pierce one with a toothpick, tried to sell you anything while slowing down the exit.
  4. The winery pins on the Red Trail map were wrong (the first one in particular was just the wrong way around... the others were very approximate)... and we got lost in the "maze of narrow streets'. repeatedly! And don't tell me you didn't realise in time! The event lasted from 26 September to 18 October 2015 and there was plenty of time to reprint them! And then I didn't understand how they could have arrived at the press wrong... no one noticed at the checking stage?????? That is, when I do graphic work for a client I ask him to check the data entered after I have looked at them at least 10 times both on the monitor and on paper, how is it possible that no one checks at such a big event? Mah!
  5. We must have been stopped by at least 20 people to ask us where to buy passes and cup holders! It seems surreal to me that people have to hassle and ask everyone where to pay to get admission to the tastings! The information point MUST be well signposted and in a convenient location!

And the wording:

Lose yourself in the colours of autumn, its flavours and scents.

No hurry.

which you can find on the official website do not think that it is about enjoying the tasting: you have to get down quickly without killing yourself in the tunnel, the AIS sommelier (my association made a big impression anyway because for the little that they spoke the serving sommeliers were really, really prepared and I am very proud of that!) who was in charge of the tasting has from 30 seconds to just under a minute to explain a terroir and/or a grape variety to you, and then you run with the goblet with the wine tasting in your hand to go up the same tunnel... and you run to look for the next winery on a map with the pin not quite right with the goblet in your hand... then yes, afterwards don't be in a hurry to get in... that you have at least an hour of queue ahead for the next tasting...


Queue at the entrance to cellar No. 9 of the Red Trail! And the other tasting points were in even worse shape, so much so that we had to skip cellar 4 because the queue was really impractical...

But Morbegno in the cellar is fortunately not only differently organised, but is home to so many excellent products from the Valtellina region... which is a veritable treasure chest of food and wine! And so, skipping the wine itineraries whose organisation needs to be completely overhauled, we had the privilege of tasting extraordinary products.

I ate a delicious sandwich made with a rye bun and Valtellina bresaola... and I discovered that bresaola is not that dry, crappy thing you find in the supermarket but a delicious 'carne salada' that is a bit more aromatic and dry! I love it!

I had a delicious sandwich made with a rye bun and Valtellina bresaola... and I discovered that bresaola is not that dry, crappy thing you find in the supermarket but a delicious 'carne salada' that is a bit more aromatic and dry! I love it!

The tastings of the red itinerary were pleasant even if with a few highlights... the only wine I really didn't like was Fay's metodo classico brut... but living in Franciacorta I'm used to it quite well 😀

If I may venture an advice to the Consorzio Turistico Porte di Valtellina, learn from Montalcino with its event Welcome Brunello! and concentrate the tastings in a single location suitable for everyone regardless of what kind of legs or shoes you have! So NO shabby cellars with dangerous underground passages and YES to a beautiful cloister or hall of one of Morbegno's beautiful buildings. And take care of safety, it's important! It doesn't always turn out well... and if someone gets hurt, it's a shame both for the poor guy in question and for you, who will have so many lawsuits and money to cough up that you'll never hear the end of it!

Morbegno in cantina is a delightful event in a pearl of Valtellina... which I hope from next year will no longer be organised differently!

Ohibò, in case I do like the hyena reporters and come back to check if you have made everything safe and the disabled can access it, eh! 🙂 🙂

Come on you're good, you keep great bread... so arm yourselves with teeth! The money is good all wine lovers, with or without wheels! The right location I am convinced would double the number of visitors... because word of mouth exists... and next year if I return to Morbegno in Cantina and nothing has changed the wine-tasting tour wouldn't do it again even with the free pass because I didn't kill anyone to make me, on my day off, queue for two hours to get half a finger of wine, risking killing myself to get down to a historic winery that may well be characteristic but is certainly not beautiful to visit and then quickly clear out and taste it on the street while I run to get in line for the next tasting! Guaranteed! But I would gladly return to Morbegno in Cantina for those wonderful pizzocheri from the food stand accompanied by the Legnone craft live beerfor the delicious apple juice I bought at the banquet of il Gabbiano, a social cooperative in Sondrio, for the bresaola of theAz. Agricola di Vanoni Renata which, after tasting all the ones on sale at the event, we liked so much that we bought 1.3 kg... and after one day it was almost finished... (I even had the nerve to ask how long it would keep for :D)

Morbegno in cantina is truly a beautiful event full of the excellence of a territory with flavours capable of enchanting and really worth a visit... so I can only ask the Consorzio Turistico Porte di Valtellina to reflect on the five organisational problems I have encountered to ensure that the 21st edition is unforgettable and a pleasure for all #winelovers.

A big hug,


P.S. Do you know that when I took the third level exam to become an AIS sommelier, one of the questions in the oral exam was Valtellina? If you are an aspiring sommelier, I recommend reading the exam notes with questions & answers!

P.P.S. In any case, Francesco and I had a wonderful day: it was great laughing our way through the streets of Morbegno, smashing up on food and wine that was to die for! See you next time! 😉


 Finally doing some research on the web I found the project BARRIER-FREE CELLARS... I think I will look into it 😉

Now I really salute you 😀

error: This content is copyright ©Chiara Bassi