The flying women, new to the skies in the twenties, were the symbol of liberty and independence
It is as if I am travelling back in time: I am staying in one of the Grand Hotels from the twenties, in one of those fascinating palace style buildings which symbolise a mood of romance and intrigue – stories of people who met, love stories which blossomed, an aristocracy also in full bloom, able to permit themselves an excess of luxury. Monsieur Cesar Ritz was the first to really succeed in pushing the boundaries of an indulgent hotel concept. And then it was to develop in Italy with supremely recognisable liberty style as portrayed in the examples of Chini, ‘Gran Hotel’ at Rimini and Sorrento, at Santa Margherita Ligure and at Villa d’Este, not to forget Venice and Rome. Today they remain as outstanding buildings, surrounded however by a drab urban reality.
And here I am at Montecatini, Terme del Tettuccio. How much wonder there is here in a semi-open enclosed space: in the twenties the spa towns were reinvented following a concept much to do with Roman times. On entering one is met by statues representing Water, Medicine, Health and Hygiene. The principal feature however remains the sculpted fountains with diverse figures tempting the visitor to focus on wellbeing and the benefits of the health-giving waters. It is not difficult to close one’s eyes and imagine those times of almost a century ago and picture the well-to-do folk pampering themselves and making the most of the magical waters available to them. The ladies of course were principal protagonists, enjoying a hard-earned emancipation. It was not by chance that the flying women, new to the skies, remained throughout those years the symbol of liberty and independence. They had asked me here to speak about tourism; on the table a bottle of water, its label indicating it to be of Brescian origin and a sad plastic beaker to accompany it “Excuse me, but would it be possible to have a glass of Montecatini water”?
I reflected to myself that Montecatini, one of the most fascinating places I have ever visited, had lost confidence in itself and its means. It seemed that a speculative approach was coming home to roost and the consequences of ill-judgement were beginning to bite hard. Here, there are more than 200 accommodation opportunities, but many hotels are up for sale and the price of rooms is of a budget market resort. How is such possible? The spa towns of Italy were famous throughout the world. Nowadays it is sufficient to look at Chianciano Terme as an emblematic example, it full of almost shed-like structures, a memory of a glorious past truly fading. What has remained of the hospitality of time ago is the question I ask myself.
Fast forward to a consideration of the big hotels of today and I find myself in a place I know only too well – the Las Vegas of Südtirol: Val Ridanna, Val Venosta, Val Pusteria, Val Passiria, and so on and so forth to mention and include all the valleys of South Tyrol. Here, in terms of dimensions and choice the offer is vast, vaster than vast indeed. I am lodged on the first floor of a big hotel. Looking out at the barracks across the way the kids are playing happily on the pedal boat on the artificial lake; many are the tourists lying poolside around the eight pools, others are queuing to take serious advantage of the rich buffet. The plates of those at the tables are fuller than full, higher than high, and they remain almost as full and as high when the followers of the all inclusive solutions slowly leave their table, fuller than full are they and exhausted from the intake. Yes, there is more to add. Here in the Las Vegas of Südtirol the spa needs to be a thousand metre square construction and the brochures all speak of professionalism of the highest standards. I do not doubt that the 20 masseurs here will be more than busy for the next three days. I take a place at the table and I order a plate of speck. What is served amounts to some raw meat slices with the smell of having been hung out to dry. I look at it enquiringly. Of course I had my dark glasses on and my cap pulled down low, because as you can imagine here in Südtirol Alto Adige everybody gets to know about everybody else. I played the fool and asked the waiter: “Excuse me, but this speck comes from pigs from where?” “What a question”, came the reply: “Südtirol”! Well, I beg to doubt the response for only the “Südtiroler Bauernspeck” brand – speck from the farm -guarantees that the pigs have been reared here in South Tyrol, and the rest is just idle chat.
A question which comes spontaneously to mind and which I would lime to put to those who read me: how has it been possible to pass from the tradition of the Grand Hotels to that of hotels which are simply big? Is this the type of tourism we really want? Is it only by searching a macro style that we will be able to feel ourselves not too micro?
If it were I to decide I would put a limit to the big hotels, sorry for any offence I might cause to the great consumers who presently frequent them, and I would also hope that our Südtirol should think about where it wants to go in the near future and so as not to find itself in years to come as part of a giant Disneyland or, worse still, having two hundred hotels disused and up for sale. If it were I to decide I would put a limit to the numbers of tourists able to sojourn in South Tyrol, and I would invite the Minister of Tourism to rethink the parameters of categorisation of guest houses and hotels. If it were I to decide I would promote a more authentic style of tourism and I would support them financially, perhaps even awarding them World Heritage status. Doing so we could really re-give life and future to Italy with its “Spa towns” and highlight all these marvelous structures, small and authentic, which really represent the excellence of Italy – think for example of the pizzeria and great restaurants which are the true symbols of Italian hospitality and which make it the most beautiful country in the world. Following such a way we could fly high again, just as the female flyers did in the glorious twenties, a time of true liberty and independence.
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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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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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. Michil 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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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.
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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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!
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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