Ilda Pizzinini, the founder and the true devoted mother of La Stüa, reveals the history of her Hotel which is though inseparable from Ilda’s own life story….
Once upon a time... eh, no, that's the way to start a fairy-tale, but I want to share with you the memories that bind me to this place.
It was the 26th of August, 1934 when the time came for the birth of the long-awaited heir, that after the birth of two girls, 7 and 8 years before, should absolutely be a boy supposed to take over the family farm "Runch" in Badia. Great disappointment when father "Vijo" – Luigi, who was present at the childbirth, exclaimed "oh, what a sweet girl"!
These words, although of course there was joy for the successful birth, drew more than one tear from my mother, conscious of having to proceed with the attempts to provide the anxious father with a male heir... and two years later the 4th girl was born.
According to the Habsburg law the farm was indivisible and so father Luigi considered it fair to build a house with three apartments for the three daughters that had renounced to take over the farm.
We were now in the 1950s, some 5-10 years after the Second World War. There were some hotels along the transit roads or on the mountain passes that already before the Great War of 1915-18 had hosted celebrities, geologists and scientists, noblemen and members of royal families. Remembering their past fame, these hotels tried to revive tourism even between the two wars.
The disastrous ravages of the wars made people flee from the valleys that couldn't offer much, apart from humble agriculture, some handicraft and the sale of everything that could be cultivated, like dairy products, timber and farm animals.
But in Italian and especially German cities after some recovery from the ruins of bombardments people felt the need to distract themselves from the stress and to visit quiet and unique places like the Dolomites. This marked the timid dawn of tourism, at first in summer, then in winter.
One day, a gentleman from Milan that came from time to time to spend a holiday in Alta Badia convinced father Luigi to transform the new house into a hotel using the space on the ground floor for a dining room, a bar and a kitchen. The elder sister Oliva could be responsible for cooking, having already experience in other hotels, me, Ilda, who taught in an elementary school, could undertake administrative functions and Emma, a professional knitter, turned to be a good chambermaid and waitress.
With a publicity scheme that I could call "medieval", promising water, electricity and central heating in the rooms, we managed to obtain, especially in Germany, fixed bookings from travel agencies for the whole season that after just a few years brought us to doubling the hotel dimensions.
But when Oliva decided to get married and we were joined by a man without any experience in the field of tourism, the situation started vacillating. Emma got married as well and remained me, Ilda, whose main interest was the school and the wish to continue studies at a university.
I remained for several years to help my sister, but when I expressed my desire to build a house on a parcel next to the Hotel Serena, my brother-in-law proposed an exchange with his parcel in San Cassiano. I didn't like San Cassiano and if I had to move there I claimed the construction of a commercial building. Thus, after years of financial difficulties and credit restrictions on the part of banks, on the 22nd of Dicember, 1965 I managed to inaugurate my "La Stua".
Because of my job I had to rent the hotel for 3.5 years. In 1969 I finally took over the management of the hotel and thanks to the competence and professionalism of my staff managed to proceed until retiring on pension.
Time passed and more and more residents of the valley saw their future economic potential in tourism and, whenever possible, started building bed & breakfasts, guest houses and even hotels. 1962 became the crucial year due to the construction of the Piz Sorega cable car that allowed to connect the slopes of San Cassiano and Corvara and favoured the development of both skiing resorts. The surrounding villages woke up as well and did their best to be able to welcome future clients.
Although I was capable of running the hotel, I lacked the important knowledge in the field of cookery and professional services. So I attended the necessary courses and was soon able to control the work of the chef and of the other staff. I was lucky to employ the local staff and an excellent Italian chef. The only thing that was still missing was the clients' entertainment. Thanks to my school activities I knew a lot of tabletop games that sometimes were played till morning, giving the opportunity to create friendships that lasted up to 30 years. To give my clients the possibility to fully live the Dolomites, I spent a lot of time hiking with my camera across the surrounding mountains and searching new places for alternative routes, in order to show them afterwards on slides to the interested clients.
Once a week we used to organize a traditional Ladin dinner in the tavern followed by dancing to favour the digestion. There was an atmosphere of living in a huge family.
At the beginning due to the lack of bank credits I was forced to reduce the construction costs, so some of the rooms had only wash basin while the bathroom was located on the floor to serve several rooms.
In 1974 bathrooms were added to all the rooms. The bar and the dining area were renovated according to the new criteria. Rules and standards regarding kitchen and safety got changed almost every year! In 1977 I got married and in 1979 I was joined by my niece Rita, my sister's daughter.
Skiing and hiking wasn't enough for the clients any more and soon another trend appeared: wellness. In 1998 was constructed the wellness area featuring whirlpools, Turkish bath, sauna, plunge pool and Kneipp baths. Of course, it had a positive effect on the tourists, but in the next two years 1998 and '99 many of them had to cancel their reservations due to the lack of snow. In 1994 my niece Rita married Sauro giving birth to Robert, Gabriele and Michele between 1995 and 2003. Starting from 2000 they hold the reins in their hands.
In 2001 the roof was completely renovated, rising up and making space for new rooms in the attic. Moving the family apartment to the first floor, we gained some space at the entrance to install a lift, organize a playroom and enlarge the dining room.
Signed: Ilda Pizzinini
Unfortunately the aunt didn't manage to read us her story, as she passed away on 17 July 2015.
What can we add? We hope that one of our sons will continue the family tradition, as desired by the aunt. The house is finally full of boys: girls, however, should not be missing either...