A TALE OF TWO MOUNTAIN RANGES…
This isn’t going to be a travelogue exactly because Dorothy and I have travelled to both Landeck and its Austrian Tyrol mountains and Fai Della Paganella with its Dolomite mountains several times before, and I’ve mentioned them in some detail on those occasions.
This, differently, is a tale of two hotels.
When you’ve stayed at one of the big hotel chains (say, the Ibis) you get to dread the next hotel. They’re all right as far as they go and they provide a bed for the night, but that’s really all they have to offer. We stayed overnight in the Ibis in Strasbourg (France) and overnight was quite long enough. Note for the Ibises everywhere: if you must hang shower curtains don’t make them a foot (30 centimetres) too long, especially if the shower cubicle was manufactured for dwarves.
But this isn’t about any Ibis anywhere.
Let’s travel into Austria and the lovely little town of Landeck. Surrounded by beautiful mountains all clad in coats of green pine and with a blue sky covering the vaulted heavens on a good day, on a high point is the Sonne hotel run by Karl and a small staff of dedicated employees.
The Sonne, Landeck
It is filled with old charm, and to make the point huge pieces of ancient wooden furniture are scattered bout the place. Charming.
A delightful and heavy ancient cupboard/wardrobe.
There seems to be a mangle in the cellar!
The food, served in a dining room that looks over the town, is good and includes some of particular local interest, especially on the night when guests get treated to a Tyrolean dinner. Much of the menu is pork-based, but that’s normal in the region.
Underneath the building are cellars, converted into a bar that I’ve never seen in use and a bowling alley that I have. Nine-pin bowling is fiendishly difficult, and in competitions Karl adds a touch of danger with his award of schnapps for those who miss and those who do rather well.
The bowling alley in the cellar
Kark at the controls of his bowling alley
He’s a generous man, and that much is evident from the wide range of (liquid) prizes he sprinkles on his guests. When he discovered that Dorothy and I had been there five times (we told him that, but memory subsequently produced a sixth) he awarded us with a prize, liquid in a bottle!
Travel further south and you leave Austria and arrive in Italy – and the Dolomites. Motor up a winding road replete with hair-pin bends and you arrive at Fai Della Paganella (Paganella being the name of the gigantic mountain in whose skirts it’s cradled).
A delightful Dolomite village, one of the hotels is the Paganella run by Fausto. And this hotel is magnificent though relatively small. Fausto seems to be a wine buff. He has a small vineyard lower down and wine is produced with the help of his ninety year-old expert. I won’t try to type his name because spelling it inaccurately might offend!
Wine appears on the dinner table, in copious quantities. In fact, it’s not just poor quality table wine but something that is a joy to drink, and drink it I did, in satisfying measures.
Fausto telling our party about his village
Fausto loves his village – that much is obvious. His family has lived there for several generations, and he likes nothing more than taking guests around the place, explaining some of its history. Then, suddenly, almost unexpectedly, the guest arrives at a viewpoint. It’s like looking down from an aircraft. The Trento valley is laid out below, buildings, communities, fields, vineyards… postage stamp places with a ribbon river and even narrower road weaving through them. Beautiful.
Then, as a final shocker, he’s arranged pizza and wine (of course) in the local park afterwards!What a walk! What a treat!
Food at the Paganella can only be described by one word: excellent. The menu is varied and the chef skilled beyond belief.
What binds these two hotels in my mind is, despite many differences, they are family-run places held together by pride and love. And in different ways they both offer what we all sometimes crave: that odd mixture of calm, exploration and adventure that is the hallmark of human existence.
© Peter Rogerson 21.06.14