The powerful V6 roars like a prehistoric lion before coming to a halt and restoring a semblance of peace to the mountain landscape. The young guy, jeans torn in the fashion of the day and a cube patterned polo shirt to match, dismounts. He takes a crate of champagne from the boot and hands it over to the young lad standing beside him. I myself am seated on the terrace of the mountain refuge at a height of 2,000 metres and am taking in the majesty of the Sassolungo range which as always holds me spellbound. I order the fresh range eggs and the South Tyrolean speck which I know to be the speciality of the house.
The speck is more than good for it is of local origin and not the imitation sort which sometimes arrives from the Low Countries as far as our mountain home. True to say is that the existence of local networks promoting regional agriculture, providing a sustainable tourism and assuring a high standard of quality is well developed in the Dolomites. A young waitress dressed in Ladin traditional costume and with an accent recognisable as eastern European origin serves me in a correct and friendly manner. The yuppie style young man, owner of both the Suv and the refuge, is now dressed in neatly embroidered leather trousers, South Tyrolean shirt, and a decorated apron. His shrewd eye tours the tables and he offers a standard style smile to those present. It is not long to go to midday and there are still plenty of tables free. His look becomes a little more concerned as he realises that there will be no double sitting this day. After all it is not yet winter and high season is still a way away. The frenzied hedonism of Dolomite winter pleasure is a 50 year old story now and seems to know no limits but this said, it is possible, and will always remain so, to be able to find places uncontaminated and distant from the noise and fury of too much construction, too much speculation and too much of this and that – too much of everything indeed. The era of development has been fast and furious but without tourism the negative effects would have been catastrophic – the farmers would have abandoned the fields, the youngsters would have migrated to the cities, the Ladin language would have been a thing of the past. Compare this scenario with that in which there are Ladin schools, care is taken to maintain the language, publications espouse the Ladin way and the Ladin identity in general is much respected and even requested and wanted by the tourist, and certainly thriving amongst those who inhabit the valleys.
The economic phenomenon we witness today is a realisation of what we have been able to realise in a dynamic and inventive manner. Look back to the late eighteen hundreds and the early exploits of the English mountaineers in the Ampezzana area and then further on along the road to the Olympic Games in Cortina in 1956 and so on the emergence of 50,000 beds in Val di Fassa, 20,000 in Val Gardena, and 17,000 in Val Badia. In our valleys the particularity of the terrain and the total of its offering have laid the base for a spectacular entrepreneurial success. Thanks to the sound and integrated relationship between farmers, handcraft artisans and tourist operators it has been possible to invest in in innovation both at the level of the products and processes to provide an excellence of service. The final result is of an offer both rich in terms of experience and client satisfaction. One outstanding example is the Dolomiti Superski consortium comprising of 12 ski areas and 1,200 kms of perfectly snow-covered slopes. Add to this the high standard and variation of hotel offer and a much appreciated cuisine and you have something special.
My host brings me a grappa, takes a seat, and almost inevitably the conversation turns to the ‘how is business going?’ and ‘what are the prospects for the season?’ topics. After the third grappa however the more sober aspect of mankind emerges for we talk about how things used to be in this land of ours and no longer are. Not so much I may add for satisfaction in the pure pathos of nostalgia but more a shared feeling that the real value of our work needs to be measured in terms of just intent and respect for ideals, so as to create a worthy outcome. We are both convinced that a single isolated style tourism will damage both man and land. Without too fine a gloss we must look for a better world where we fortunate ones are able to be more knowledgeable and realise the privileged position we have in influencing things around us. Contemporary we may be but not sufficiently so to abandon any role in the present sort of post modernism spiritual void we have today.
I make my way down through the well organised fields. I greet a farmworker, glad to see this representation of our mountain community. Sure, the ox, the haypick and rake are not his standard work companions any longer. To a great extent they have been replaced by large local government funded tractors so as to render this demanding and not immediately rewarding work viable. I stop a while and we engage in conversation. He relates the difficulties of the work in the woods but also his enthusiasm for a new project to start in 2012 whereby a newly formed cooperative society called ‘Wertholz’ will rent his wood, order it and sell the logs. An important initiative this when you realise that there are almost 300 hectares of woods in South Tyrol, and half of these are abandoned to themselves.
One thing is for sure. We need to eliminate the car from the Dolomite passes. It can be done: make use of electric shuttles: use the lift systems (yes, I know that they can be an eyesore and worse so when illuminated at night showing off a web of steel and glass). And whilst talking about eyesores let’s not forget to mention some of the hotel structures seemingly built with Alpine porn in mind. What place do miniature replicas of the Taj Mahal and baroque domes have in our mountain home? And to complete the mayhem they serve cosmopolitan cuisine on tables made of African mahogany. ‘The clients like it all’ is the cry in defence. Well I guess you get the client you deserve is the only worthy risposte.
We are witnesses to a conflict of reason now well underway – points gained and points lost as we look to a future which, as night is day, will surely come to be. The battle has commenced and who will win? Will it be the builders, the mixers of cement to bring economic success or the ethical movement, opposers of excess and blessed with reason or will the eventual winners be those who believe in consolidating the excellent progress made over the years and not spoiling all through undue excess. For all parties one thing should be clear: we all need to reason with the interests of the local community at heart.
The Sella massif is the embodiment of Beauty and it is as if this marvellous creation asks of me as a grateful and undeserving inhabitant of The Dolomites, a patrimony of all mankind, not only to be grateful for the honour afforded me as a temporary resident, to enjoy and marvel at its nature but to go further and not rest on my laurels but to question, to think and project for the future to come.
Who does not remember the film “The Dead Poet’s Society” when one of the young College guys comes out after the suicide of a friend and declares ‘And it’s all so beautiful’.
I cannot help but feel the same sentiment in many ways.
Artur Pescol is orginally from Badia but now lives in Pieve di Marebbe together with his wife and two daughters. He has been responsible for ‘house maintenance’ since 1996 and as such take care of all aspects of La Perla’s well-being! He knows how to fix anything and everything – and I do mean anything and everthing! And more besides, for Artur knows many things, passing from alternative medicine to political scenarios, and even tells us how the weather will be!
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His job isn’t climbing, it’s to learn how to live the mountain in the simplest and authentic way possible, without the chasing of performances. Living in the respect of the vertical dimension. This is Pippo, the mountain guide of hotel La Perla, in our house since winter 2016.
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Merch Pescollderungg is a local Badia man in that he hails from San Cassiano. First started at La Perla in 2000 as a sommelier, and has devloped to be today the right hand man of Michil Costa. He is our marketing man and the strategist for the product we call ‘La Perla’. Strong in analysing data he also is, strange though it might seem, full of creativity and winning ideas!
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Joe is from Verona and first arrived at La Perla in 2007. She is from Verona but looks and behaves just like a typical Ladin lady! In reality she has always wanted to be a bit of a Heidi, a companion of the goats in the meadows with the mountains full of music standing proud above. Always smiling she loves to laugh a lot. Joe is responsible for Communications and Press. She is Michil's wife.
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Michil is the first born of the Costa family. A great lover of music he had always wanted to become a musician but has had to settle for selling steaks - or, better said, to being a hotelier. Michl is a bit the rebel in the family, has a great environmental commitment, and just loves Nature. He is the exponent of La Perla's philosophy.
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1998 was the year when Marco Pellegrini first set foot here! He left in 2015. Promoted to Head of Bar in 2009 he was really on top of his job and his cocktails are to die for. Recently married to Francesca, they live in Caorle. Very efficient in leading and guiding his team, Marco is good at organising and when discussiong one thing or the other he always likes to come out on top!
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Alexandra is from Ortisei, in Val Gardena. Her imagination has wings and her humour alights the souls. Once grown up, she wants to be an educator. When she is not studying for university exams, she follows her nephew Ezra with heart and soul. Ezra adores her. She was with us in 2013 as Michil’s assistant.
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Ernesto Costa is the boss. He now prefers to pass his time flying in his plane, polishing up his motorbikes, or tampering with antique cuckoo clocks from his collection. Always be quick to take his advice though for his insight into things is remarkable and he has an uncanny way of seeing things in their entirety.
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Valerio is Sardinian. Smiling. Talkative. Witty. Curious. Lively. Attentive. Sensitive. Thoughtful. Valerio is the sum of positive adjectives, all shining brightly from his profound gaze. Valerio has been with us since 2012, he is front office manager and his greeting rings pure, cordial and sincere.
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Manuel Dellago comes from Val Gardena: - we forgive every man his sins!! He is the food&beverage of the hotel. He is a real jester and almost always in a good mood. A fan of magic tricks he likes the chance to practise one or two! He is also head of the project of the Economy of the Common Good.
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Nicoletta Del Prete
Nicoletta Del Prete was to be found in our Wellness Centre. She is from Ischia – you know, that region where they sing and whistle! She has worked at La Perla from 2008 to 2013 and her specialisation is in sports massages. She said she knew all the secrets of the guests but she never told us any! Certain is that she proved to be very popular with all the guests.
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Irene Pollini Giolai
Born in Asolo, Treviso, Irene now lives in Milan. She has a degree in Public Relations and Advertising, and she also attended for a year an Urban-wear (fashion design) course at the IED in Milan. Then she studied at the Goethe Institute in Berlin. Since the age of 4 she has written in a compulsive manner. "I love walking, looking around with music in my ears. I like big cities and small places. To me big cities are required to find inspiration and calm, and small places help me to re-elaborate material well."
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Marco Sacchelli has been with us since 2005. Together with his wife Linda he accompanies guests on summer excursions. Marco spends his time between Corvara and Tenerife, the birthplace of Linda. His knowledge and insight into our Ladin valley is impressive and he is always ready to share thoughts and facts with friends new and old alike, and the role he fulfils is a much appreciated one.
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Thomas Hanifle studied communication science in Vienna. Since 2005, he has been active in journalism as a freelancer, researcher at the Documentation Centre for South Tyrolean School History, author of several books and employee at Raetia publishing house. He is a founding member of the Ex Libris Cooperative.
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Lisa Campagnolo has been with us since 2009, in charge of the hotel reception. Now she's responsible for the sales department. Originally from Bassano del Grappa she is a great lover of Latin-american music. We are in good hands with Lisa for she really is ‘top of the class’!
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Mathias Costa is the second born of the family. He is never without a smile and we can really say that he is never ever in anything but a good mood. He manages the Murin tavern and his great passions are skiing and cycling. He is married to Petra, she from Vilpiano, and they have two beautiful little girls, Anna e Lena.
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Riccardo Bertoncelli, writer and outstanding music critic. Born in Novara in 1952. A fan of rock from the age of 15. In 1969 he produced the cyclostyled fanzine Freak, dedicated to underground music. In 1973 he published Pop Story, the first in Italy of its type and today a cult book. It communicated to Italian youth the historical and cultural horizions of pop and rock.
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Maria Canins was born in Badia on the 4th June (the actual year is top secret!). She started her sporting career in athletics and in mountin running, then she moved on to cross-country skiing, cycling, and mountain biking. A world time title, two Tour de France and a Giro d'Italia are to her name and in cross-country she won the Marcialonga ten times and was also victorious once in the Vasaloppet. Her record speaks for itself and she is a sports heroine whose fame extends far betond national borders.
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Nicola Dal Falco
Nicola Dal Falco, writer and poet from Rome, with Ulrike Kindl, Germanist from the Ca’Foscari University in Venice, is re-reading and re-writing the Ladin myths of the Dolomites. His broadsheets and other art publications can be found in the British Library in London, the Ragghianti Foundation in Lucca, as well as the libraries at the Mart in Rovereto, Palazzo Sormani in Milan and the Panizzi in Reggio Emilia.
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Nicolò has an eclectic spirit. Chef, host, manager: he can do it all and more. Like many a good Piemontese, he left for France as a young man, he worked in three star restaurants and was part of the Nadia Santini team. Then he discovered Alta Badia and he has recently come into the orbit of La Perla. Now he is gently guiding the Ladinia. Maybe not so as to make the floorboards creak, or maybe because his soul is still as light as a feather. The only thing he really cares about is that his guests fully embrace the spirit of this house, something of an inn, something of a refuge, always and however a welcoming, cosy, and tranquil place.
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Reserved and star-rated, Nicola is the Casa’s new Chef. A little bit Ladin and a little bit Pugliese, he loves to put the best of Italy into his dishes that are as genuine as the sound of the bells and as authentic as the waves of the sea. Without bothering to use such worn-out words as tradition and territory, his Canederli grigi make converts even beyond the Dolomites, because Nicola believes that actions speak louder than words.
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Technology, London, web, San Cassiano, children, music listened to and played, degree in industrial design, basketball as a boy, skiing and walking when possible: Axl is a mix of all these qualities which are ideal for anyone whose job is to look after Casa’s web marketing-oriented communication, something he has been doing since September 2015
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Without neglecting one important fact: he is also the husband of Elide!
The German actor Hannes Jaenicke is a passionate environmentalist and author. His most recent book „Die große Volksverarsche“ (Gütersloher Verlagshaus) landed 1st place on the Spiegel bestseller list.
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Low-profile, high content: this is the essence of Fabian, with us since summer 2015. He confronts the deluge of numbers that face him everyday always in a positive way. Between an Excel file and an equation he found time to take a degree in Economics and Management, continued with his sport, always ate well and above all cultivated not only gardens and vegetable plots, but his boundless love of nature.
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Ulrich Wallnöfer is co-founder and initiator of Pur Südtirol, a platform for the commercialization and development of regional, sustainable food and products. Furthermore, he is an associate and manager of Meraner Weinhaus GmbH, a company that is specialized in the sale of wine.
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1994 was the year when Arturo Spicocchi first came. He remained until 2014. Since 2002 he was the chef of ‘Stüa de Michil’. He just loved to prepare those wonderful olives Ascoli style and is so passionate about food that at times it was difficult to get him out of the kitchen! Michil had to force him out at times and is now so happy that Arturo has recently discovered the joy of cycling!
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Born in Milan in 1975, Claudia’s life is concentrated on writing. After a university degree in philosophy and two master degrees – one in writing techniques for fiction and one in enogastronomic communication studies – she has turned her passion into a profession. She also works for Identità Golose by organizing events and writing menu cards and articles. Aspirations? Simply creating.
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Young and determined. He worked himself up and spared no work. Half Caribbean and half Friulano he moves deftly and efficiently behind the bar. No need to worry here that the mix of his background will work against him. Victor is certainly an example of a cocktail come out well, just like the ones he loves to prepare – and with a smile always at the ready.
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Alexander Egger has been part of the team from 1994 to 2013 and since 2002 he has been the chef of restaurant “La Perla”. Originally from Tesido in Val Pusteria he spent out of season times in Sardegna where his partner and little girl Eleonora live. A person to be catched in a quiet moment; he is a man full of wisdom and sense!
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Franco D'Orio is from Ischia – you remember, that is that region where they sing and whistle? Franco has been part of La Perla family from 1990 to 2015 and was the principal waiter for guests. Over the years he has never learned a word of German or English but all guests knew and loved him and sought him out. He loves to joke and is a big soccer fan, Napoli being his team.
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Anni Costa is the Matriarch of the great Costa family. She comes from Vilpiano and together with Ernesto Costa gave birth to the fantastic La Perla story. Time and time again she says to have handed over the reins to her sons but she still hears and sees everything which is going on! Keep alert and on your toes when she is around!
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Renate Kostner Pizzinini
Renate Kostner Pizzinini, hotelier in Alta Badia, owner of hotel Cappella in Colfosco. Keen traveller, lover of art, and supporter of many varied initiatives. www.hotelcappella.com
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A lover of all things good in South Tyrol. He claims to be the British person to have skied the most in the Dolomites - first downhill in 1982 and still going strong. Travels extensively as international marketing director of Brain international but feels most at home at La Perla!
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Lucilla Incorvati has been working for nearly 20 years at the Sole24Ore, writing on investments, i.e. how companies and individuals make the most out of their savings and capital. Socially sustainable investments are becoming more and more important and represent a new opportunity for big and small investors.
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Franco Brevini (born in Milan on 10 July 1951) is an Italian literary historian, literary critic, author and journalist.
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He is associate professor for modern and contemporary Italian literature and has been working for “Corriere della Sera” for more than twenty years.
Elide Pizzinini has been with us since 2006 and is the daughter of Ladin artists, grand-daughter of a famous couple and niece of very inspirational aunties and uncles! She lives together with husband Axl and her young sons Ezra and Edward in S. Cassiano - they both love plumcake! Friends and colleauges call her “ciüf” - a very special flower! Elide has a wonderful voice and when she tells a tale it seems that she is singing. As well as being Michil's P.A. she also deals with administrative and other aspects of the Costa Family Foundation.
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Dott. Günther Reifer is a consultant for the CWE project endorsed by Hotel La Perla; he is founder of the Terra Institute and coordinator for Italy for the movement in favour of Common Welfare Economy.
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Francesco Ricci, born in the Modena region, has for many years been involved in company and social communication work. In 2008 his fictitious diary entitled 'Il 68 a pedali' telling of a cyclist taking part in the Giro d’Italia bike race alongside Eddy Merckx was published. In 2012 it was the turn of ‘Bella Ciao’, a fiction of a brief and tragic love in the summer of 1944, and most recently in 2013 ‘Velopensieri’, wide-ranging reflections on the meaning of life.
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Paolo is responsible for the gourmet restaurant "La Stüa de Michil". His mission is to close the circle, meaning to integrate the chef's dishes with the right liquid emotions. Paolo is a sommelier, and wine is his world. For him, recommending a wine is like a sartorial act: there is no meal that cannot be basted together with an apt choice, to be uncorked and poured with joy. He prefers small producers, appreciates those who show respect for the land they work and loves to discover the new without forgetting the old. He silently studies the diner's psychology, trying to interpret the dreams of those at the table. Because in the end, the important thing is drinking well.
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Luca Monica is Italy’s most famous food hunter and associate of “Peck”, the famous brand that has always been a synonym for gastronomic quality and reliability for the Milanese and gourmets. Luca has been a friend of the Ladins for a long time because he loves Alta Badia as much as he loves rare and precious food.
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Valentina Motta has worked here from 2005 to 2012. From Vigevano, she is married to Marco, ‘first course’ chef at La Perla restaurant for many years. Guests loved her and from the first ‘bun dé’ greeting in the morning when she accompanied guests to the breakfast table her day was full of joy!
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Sonia Sbolzani - an economist from the Bocconi University, a corporate communication strategy expert. From Casalmaggiore she has organised many cultural events ; also, the city features prominently in her history and art research. Key person in a prestigious jewellery institution and works with fashion and tourism companies. A friend of the Dolomites and, more specifically, of the Ladin valleys.
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Egle is more than just a beautician, she's an aesthete, she understands beauty and art. She loves silence and everything that within the silence. It must be down to her Provençal temperament, much like ours. She loves meditating as she walks along the paths and travelling to discover new worlds. She's worked in Capri, Montecarlo, Paris, Saint Moritz, Alta Badia. She's actively participated in the transformation of the spa of our Hotel, in surroundings which are ethereal, soft, graceful and tranquil. Ah, and she always greets you with a smile.
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Daniel Verdorfer, cellarmaster extraordinaire at Hotel La Perla between 2012 and 2014. He was in charge of wine, the Mahatma Wine Cellar. He is from Tramin an der Weinstrasse in the South Tyrolean lowlands. He is into live concerts, exotic travel, good food and of course all types of wine.
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Diego Delmonego works in the social housing construction sector, reguarly photographs Alpine landscape, and for many years has monitored the territorial development in Trentino Alto Adige. In his conferences he emphasises the use of the environment by man. The prevalent themes are: urban dispersion; the trends in 'concreting' of the earth's surface; 'green roof' developments; environmental light pollution and solutions; 'plurigenerational' construction. He has cooperated on the drawing up of criteria for the reduction of light pollution in the province of Bolzano.
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Concetta is Ladin and was born in Brunico under the sign of Pisces. She can be proud of two well-deserved university degrees: foreign philology (specialization branch: history and culture) and law (specialization branch: criminal law). She is jurist and journalist. Humor, creativity and curiosity are characteristic for her style. Her great dream: publishing a novel.
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She’s from Padua, so she loves rugby. She’s a marathon runner and a cellist: energy and delicacy. The same qualities that can be found in the Spa at the Hotel La Perla in a natural way that will admit no artificial wellbeing. The passion she puts into everything is as vigorous as the mountain stream and as solid as a Dolomite stone.
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Stefan’s arrival dates back to 1988 and he knows la Perla inside out! He is involved in a multitude of things for the good of the hotel, but his real strength is in table decoration and flower arrangement. His are the guiding hands for the presentation of our hotel home! He is like an adopted son to the Costa family and is always plotting and doing with signora Costa.
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