Traversed by the Adda River, Tirano is a traditional town along Italy’s border with Switzerland. It’s home to a Catholic shrine dedicated to the Madonna of Tirano and a fascinating ethnographic museum, as well as a magnificently preserved palazzo renowned for its trompe l’oeil.
Things to do in Tirano
In the historic centre of Tirano is the Palazzo Salis, which is decorated with frescoes and stucco work dating back to the 17th century. Open to the public as a museum, it is still owned by the Salis family, who have preserved its elaborate rooms and chapel dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo. Highlights include the Room of Eight Wonders and the magnificent fireplace of the Saloncello.
On the western edge of town is the Santuario della Madonna di Tirano, a beautifully preserved Roman Catholic church that dates back to the 16th century. It stands where an image of the Madonna is said to have appeared before Mario Omodei in 1504 and is considered one of the most important examples of Renaissance architecture in Valtellina. Take note of its Romanesque bell tower and cupola before stepping inside to see what is one of Europe’s largest organs.
Nearby is the Museo Etnografico Tiranese where you can learn about the life and culture of peasants living in the mountainous region. It occupies three floors of an 18th-century palazzo, with highlights including the recreated cooper workshop and antique tools once used to repair carts. Admire the traditional textiles made using linen and step inside a “stüa”, a typical alpine room featuring wood-panelled walls and ceilings.
Getting around Tirano
Tirano is around 2.5 hours’ drive from Milan and Malpensa Airport, which has flights to destinations across the globe. Trains connect from Milan to the Tirano railway station and the town is small enough to explore on foot.