Grand Hotel Malenco

by Silvio Gaggi

Postcard of the Grand Hotel - Photo from the Cittarini Archive

A party at the Grand Hotel Malenco is always a first class social event. But the one during the August bank holiday was absolutely exquisite, worthy of the setting and of the guests.

The reporter has but a limited vocabulary at his fingertips, which is gradually becoming worn out with use; he needs sharper, more fitting expressions to extol the event which - set amidst the social life of the beautiful, elegant resorts, - stands out for all its sophistication, gracefulness and liveliness.

The owner, Mr Giuseppe Sampietro and his dear wife Emilia who, according to their custom and temperament have been able to turn the Grand Hotel Malenco into a perfect, modern home, in keeping with the requirements of a very select clientele, confirmed once again their management skills and their very special, distinctive savoir-faire.

It was a fairy-tale evening, where reality blended with imagination and fantasy. Even the exterior of the Grand Hotel had become fantastically grandiose. Its outline, spangled with thousands of lights, rose against the opaque skyline like a large ship anchored in an invisible port. The entrance hall and the promenade were transformed oriental-style with a profusion of soft lights and dicreet lamps to give a sense of intimacy and the soft, dreamy atmosphere of a beautiful pagoda...

But the most beautiful and strangest of all was the great dining hall, which had been transformed for the occasion into a piece of pure Orient, with equatorial tones...

The reception room was a precious glasshouse, in the middle of which tall palmtrees extended their protective branches, as though waiting for exhausted, imaginary caravans...

And in this piece of figurative orient, of unreal, stereotype, yet soft and evocative tropics, lively dances followed one after another. Gradually, the slow, soft, exhausting rhythms of the tango became tinged with exotic grace, whereas the stretti of the jazz gave extravagant resonance of African wilderness, which I have really heard in far-off equatorial regions beneath star-studded skies on the dreamlike edge of the jungle...

How much elegance and how much beauty? !So much! The reporter is lost in the stellar atmosphere of a night of dancing, in which he sees only constellations full of light and grace.

It is his weaknes which, naturally, the beautiful ladies do not dislike. They are the fixed and sometimes shooting stars of each social firmament... However, in the luminous myriads of the planetary system of the Grand Hotel - he seeks to remember without being able to name them all, only those he was able to identify and send the others who escaped him his heartful apologies and his conscious devotion.

Among the ladies: Sampietro, Castigliani, Maestro, Capitani, Landini, Lanari, Villa, Beltrami, Degani, Baffa, Rossi, Capelli, Pesenti, Cavazzana, Sacchetti, Alhadiff, Brugnoni, Ferrari, Colombo, etc.

Among the young girls: Pasquè, Ragazzoni, Pini, Silvera, Dell'Acqua, Moise, Lavizzari, Silvestri, Sugrada, Malugani, Borsa, Cavazzana, etc. etc. The dinner jackets were innumerous: we saw some extremely elegant, brightly coloured, resourceful examples.

[...] Dawn winks between the maritime pines in the park and on the flushed faces and heaving shoulders of the beautiful ladies, who are finding new energy from the jazz beat for a final tango [...].

We raise our goblets of sparking Piper-sec.