A DOCUMENTARY SERIES BY CASA COSTA
Once upon a time, communists had children for breakfast. Dracula bit whoever ventured into his castle. Denialists claimed the weather has always changed, and floods are nothing new. The hole in the ozone layer has shrunk and, even if the ice caps do melt, we can still move by boat – because growth and profit always come first. The economy is fine as it is, thank you very much, with raging consumerism the de facto normality.
Communists still exist – I highly doubt they feast on human flesh, though. Dracula is immortal, as seen in the countless, titular films, the most famous being Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers featuring the drop-dead gorgeous Sharon Tate; there’s no scarcity of floods, and denialists, unlike the hole in the ozone layer, are still alive and kicking. A hole which is rapidly shrinking thanks to global decision taken over the course of decades and which, in less than 20 years, will ensure the hole returns to 1980 levels.
Speaking of global decisions, the European Parliament has recently approved a new law on Nature Restoration! The first and most important obstacle on a rocky road has been overcome, Europe’s efforts against the extinction of natural species have finally begun, despite denialists who did everything in their power to bury this law. I’m speaking of the EPP, the European People’s Party, which opposed this law – with the participation of our local representatives. Just a few days ago, the SVP-Lega majority rejected the Greens’ proposal – using an incoherent justification – for planting more trees to fight the heat bubbles in our city centres and industrial estates. Incidentally, Herbert Dorfmann, our MEP, who can’t seem to do anything right, was against this idea. Being represented by such a person in Europe causes untold damage. Our hope is that the South Tyrolean doesn’t stand in the next elections, although it’s hard to see how anyone else could do worse.
Those who, in the past, fought communists with truncheons and castor oil have now turned their fight to environmentalists. And it gets worse: against fake environmentalists, who don’t practice what they preach. They talked, indirectly, about me and mine, so I feel the need to reply. Yes, they’re right: tourism does have an impact on the environment, and organising an event which sees 8,000 cyclists competing in the Dolomites means these cyclists created plenty of CO2 emissions to reach the valley by car. We’re partly responsible for that, that’s 100% accurate. I won’t analyse the fact, nonetheless an important one, that if there were fewer hotels in Alta Badia there would be fewer tourists, and that we don’t serve strawberries during winter but bananas. And that, if we’d given an answer to all their questions, then their questions wouldn’t have been the right ones. I’m now talking to my colleagues, as well as holding up a mirror to myself: we need to change. The economy will suffer, and I can already hear the usual suspects bemoaning the fact we need billions to implement a green, sustainable change, and who will pay for these changes? That’s very true, and we’ll need to be quick about it but if we don’t do something now, we’re all going to PAY. An “insignificant” detail which is of no interest to Trump, nor to greedy profit-hunters: they don’t care that much about collective needs. Their unshakeable belief in the market, a reassurance that everything will be OK, is all they need. You know who else said everything will be OK? Mussolini. Yes, I went there: if we forget our past, we’ll only damn ourselves; if we don’t accept we need to start to make sacrifices, we’ll damn all of humanity.
As the Pope said, it’s going to be a beautiful challenge. It’s our duty to find the financial instruments to ensure nobody is left behind, to keep on providing hospitality to war or climate refugees. The time has come to face the music, and understand that other economic models exist, different from the ones we know and that Joseph Stieglitz, Edgar Morin, Rifkin, Muhammad Yunus and even the Club of Rome have been talking about them for years. The time has come to think about people in need and, if we don’t do so, we’ll be the losers, living in a land where all is lost. The time has come to close the Dolomites’ passes, the time has come to roll out a carbon tax and force everyone to assess their environmental footprint. Tourists who come to the Val d’Orcia or the Dolomites should book seven years in advance, to truly appreciate the wonders that surround us. By limiting their access, we increase their allure – after all, we don’t need ‘selfie’ tourists, people who visit breathtakingly beautiful places for a couple of hours and then go. When the South Tyrolean Dolomites are full, we can still visit our brothers and sisters in Belluno, whose mountains aren’t as crowded, yet just as beautiful. Being an environmentalist doesn’t mean taking political sides: it means opening one’s eyes to something new, and being able to see how torn our beautiful planet has become. We’re the first generation who can actually see it, and the last one who is able to do something about it. We can do so by not harming the planet as much as we do now. We have to believe in this not out of a sense of duty or faith but out of conviction. Our world is still stunning. I recently came back from Breuil-Cervinia and my guide, Marco Barmasse, opened my eyes and heart (his son, Hervè, cycled from Cervinia to Corvara to take part in the Maratona dles Dolomites). The Bergman Hotel is a lighthouse of hospitality which made me, once again, realise, that doing nice things is worth it.
We’ve done nice things at the La Perla, too: we’ve revamped our fourth floors. Small – I wouldn’t say poky, but not exactly comfortable rooms, now boast a large balcony with a view of the Sassongher. Legend has it that, every 100 years, a sparrow alights on its summit to sharpen its beak. And once the Sassongher, used as a sharpening board, will be whittled down to nothing, eternity will not have even begun. Thats what my teacher, Mr Lezuo, used to tell me. And so I’m happy I can still enjoy the sight of this majestic mountain.
It’s a sight for sore eyes. And we live in a beautiful world. And even if we go for tourism’s jugular, like Dracula did, it can afford to take a hit or two. Dear guests, family, staff, suppliers: we’ll continue working towards a hospitality that goes beyond tourism. See you soon, to embrace you with open arms and an open heart: scout’s honour.