One hot Sunday afternoon. The time of year has not come whereby one can easily approach Val Mezdi and fix one’s stare on Piz Boé, not so far away as the crow flies over the peaks to Sassongher. Snow and ice are still the order of the day. There up high where larch and pine give way to stunted bushes chamois can for a little while longer remain tranquil. Man for some weeks still to come will be obliged to stay lower down the mountains and fortunately even the hunters still have the limitations of man. We decide to take a walk together...
We pass by a farmstead which dominates the open clearing. A blue electric tractor has taken the place of the oxen. These large agricultural apparatus seem like some prehistoric monster. True that the work once done by farmer with his horses is now done with less fatigue and the very existential relationship enjoyed with the land is not what it once was. However certain elements cannot be ignored, neither in sentiment or reason. The land requires and demands to be cultivated with dedication and passion.
The farmhouse which would have been a splendid focal point has long been abandoned, its windows broken, its splendid gothic style door in disarray. I recall those days long ago when construction was functional and purposeful and yet the land itself would not be damaged for ever. The very earth of the land was recognised for the richness it gave – in simple words the age of and the obsession with brick was yet to come.
Cast your mind back to those joyful times when noisy and chuckling kids ran amongst calves and baby deer, pulled the horns of the goats and chased after the geese. And then the evening when, as the men finished off their daily duties in the barn, the women of the household and the young ones settled down in the warmth of the ‘stube’. Families were always numerous. There was always a frenzy of activity around the home – sewing and knitting and general clothes repairs were a constant, the young ones had their nose in the tales of books – books used generation and generation over – and names and titles would be assigned to the objects and manners which governed a life so straightforward and embracing. And then in the working day in the fields the very language invented at home would find its practical use in a farming chore or a problem to solve. Crystal clear was the order of the day.
And now as we pass by we can only dream of those times gone by. Now the reality ìs a very different one. Even the cat on the doorstep is lonely, bored and at a loss. Grass growing wildly out of control threatens to cover the once proud wall.
It comes to mind that everything we have and have had needs to be seized, observed, diagnosed so as to draw out, recover, and appreciate its very identity and meaning. With this in mind I try to trace and reconstruct the life of the fireplace and stack, once so integral to family life in its warmth and purpose. Now a pungent smell is the immediate characteristic I am faced with and the wholesome loaves and many treats it once produced to sustain family life are but a distant recall.
I cringe a the thought that it is the advent and rise of the brick and all it stands for is part of the modern day dilemma which will reduce this one proud home to a ruin and with its passing another part of the Tyrolean identity, once so firm and proud in this land blessed by God, will disappear.
My thoughts have accompanied our stroll and we have now reached a more built-up area but the scene does nothing to bring back my smile. Rows of houses, devoid of style and any form of expression absent, meet my gaze. Cold steel and an impersonal aluminium provide a contrast of sorts but they do nothing for me. A clear wooden fence circumnavigating all reminds me of some sort of Toy Town construction and serves only to divide land and people, lives and traditions.
A mother of three fidgety children, perhaps noticing our look of disapproval at the clinical setting, throws us a look and if looks could kill we would no longer be!
All is not lost for our eye is caught by a balcony whish stands proud and is resiliently resplendent right opposite the scene I have just described – what a contrast of worlds is caught in this moment. Majestic is the balcony’s form in that it is linear, elegant and functional. The generous roof covering is made of shingle large and small, round and square, and displays its battles with the natural elements. The wooden balcony certainly shows its age but its splendour remains and even the burnt effect of thousands and thousands of hours of exposure to the scalding sun do not detract. What a celebration it is of the house itself and the red geraniums shine brightly from its heart. We also take in the wall below winds away from the house, its irregular form and stone composition full of appeal – and not so difficult is it to think of happy times experienced here. An old lady is at work, hanging out sheets and linen, and I guess she knows them intimately having sewn and repaired with care and dedication over the years. She notices our presence and sends us a nod and a wave – a little recognition which fills us with joy.
Our survey of the scene goes on and another ping to our sensitivities is not far away. Brick like constructions have been added to an existing structure of old and the proliferation of windows large and small, some oblong and some square, have all been adorned with salmon style shutters. What an affront to any notion of style and it is immediately an image of Disney World which is conjured up in our mind. A monstrosity in the valley is a theme which we would rather not explore!
Even in the mountain village so-called progress is keen to have it say. A young lad is lost in thought washing away at a high-powered car complete with a never ending antenna. True that life is often a question of priorities but is this what we really want?
Not to be deterred we walk on and there is a spring in our step as we come across several farmsteads that show great vitality and are full of the rhythms of life both in the form and harmony they celebrate. Even the vegetable patches are a joy in their own right. Of course the inconveniences of modern necessity are never too far away and occasionally we are hit by a TV satellite dish and our dream is disturbed momentarily. And when we come across a cube like structure feigning to be a home and complete with an onion shaped door true dismay comes to the fore.
So here we have it and here it is. Our South Tyrol has come to this. Vignettes of beauty and unparalleled nature but all interwoven with horrible and sometimes horrific examples of modern warfare – I exaggerate but my point is clear. Sure. Some say that we can get used to everything and that the indescribable becomes part of our reality. Even the ex environmentalist Reinhold messner tends to agree. A few weeks back he declared, and I quote, “ that chatterbox Michl Costa lives in a hotel built entirely of reinforced concrete and it one of the ugliest buildings in the whole of The Dolomites” (see the article in Italian). Shall we just put his statement down asa point of view?.
But in the larger scheme of things I cannot help but protest. If we are not able to safeguard something of what is beautiful and something of what is dear to us it will certainly not be the remote controlled garage which saves the day for us. True that our wealthy Province has constructed roads, bridges, aqueducts to help us prosper. But it is the obsession with grandeur that is also removing the identity of the mountain villages. Vast civic authority structures large beyond function and other structures built yet utilised for only a few days each year contribute to cancel something of the past and something of important in the village community – the very nature of tradition and appreciation of things which binds us together. The danger is that if we are not able to maintain strands of our history, tradition, and past we run the risk of not caring and almost subconsciously losing that which has always distinguished us and filled us with joy. If we are not able to find a way to preserve the old style homes, to remember how to produce bread from the oven, to maintain the paths through the woods, to rejoice in the small squares of the villages, to protect the proud larch trees of a certain age, to meet in traditional places of life and culture, we will not even be able to ask ourselves the essential questions which have always been a very part of us. Imagine if we all become identical and are no longer capable of questioning that which is within us. To pass the responsibility to museums and to mummify all - an approach which is adopted in many parts - is not the solution. And neither is a constant journey in nostalgic dress the solution. It is only through behaviour and action of an open and receptive nature that we can truly achieve the necessary. It is only with soft and tender actions which take into account the real life in the Ladin valleys, our distinctive Nature and our proud past where history and work and Nature and culture have always found fertile ground, that we will be able to make a vital contribution in safeguarding and promoting all that is distinctive and essential to our people and to our visitors.
I use the words ‘soft’ and ‘tender’ for Theiner said “ It is necessary to do all in a soft and caring manner”.
The only way forward is to help each other along the way and take each other by the hand and accompany all with a smile for notwithstanding all it will always be a smile which saves the day and in certain instances the world itself.
And now the really good news: The Regional Administrative Tribunal has in a final move blocked the development of the Antersasc road. We thank you for the many messages which have been sent in consequence. The road was wanted by The Provincial Government and was also wanted by the friend of the Province’s Presidentand those merchants of the merchants of cement mix – that wheeler dealer Reinhold Messner. How sad!
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Cintia is our Spa manager. She is Hungarian but has lived in Italy for more than 20 years. She has a delicate smile and is extremely polite and courteous and has unlimited reserves of energy. Perhaps for this that she loves to horseride in her free time!
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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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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.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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!
Joe is from Verona and first arrived at La Perla in 2005. 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, as well as Human Relations. She is Michil's wife.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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