I traveled to Liguria for the first time in 2013 and since then I have to visit the Riviera of Flowers at least once a year. From the first moment, I was fascinated by the authenticity, the diversity of the landscapes, and the people.
Liguria is located in the northwest of Italy between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Maritime Alps. The region is characterized by its impressive mountains with its traditional mountain villages, small bays, picturesque, little harbor towns, and impressive hiking trails. Our journey today takes us to the province of Imperia, which is one of the sunniest regions in Italy.
Imperia, the small coastal town, was created by merging the towns of Porto Maurizio and Oneglia and is not a typical tourist resort. People live and work here all year round and even in winter, the town is full of life. It offers a good selection of restaurants, shops, sandy beaches, and the typical bagnos. The port of Imperia, which is well worth seeing, once served as the setting for the film Bourne Identity.
High up in the hills of the province of Imperia, not far from the coast, lies the sleepy village of Borgomaro. The small houses are aligned uphill in the typical Ligurian style. In the center is the village square with a church and a small grocery shop. This is where the children and young people meet in the evenings. It feels a little like traveling back in time! The crumbling plaster of the houses, the church bells that ring every hour and announce the time, the silence and yet bustle of the small village, all this has a calming effect and one has the feeling of having finally arrived. A bridge leads over the Impero River directly to the Relais del Maro, an Albergo Diffuso.
Albergo Diffuso – the preservation of mountain villages
The concept behind it is to save villages from decay. Many places in Italy have been depopulated by earthquakes or other natural events. At some point, people have given up trying to rebuild their homes. The Italian tourism consultant Gian-Carlo Dall’Ara wanted to put an end to this decline with his idea. By rebuilding homes and at the same time creating holiday apartments and houses, the inhabitants could refinance their expenses and the villages could be preserved. Guests have the opportunity to participate in life in a historic mountain village while enjoying the amenities of a hotel.
Relais del Maro
Relais del Maro has fourteen rooms spread over three historic buildings in the village of Borgomaro. The host family Scalambrin is deeply rooted in the region. Motivated to continue telling the stories of their ancestors and to preserve the culture and tradition of the area. This is how the Relais del Maro was born, with its countless loving details and the desire to share all this with its guests. It is a magical place and the many regular customers are testimony to the exceptional hospitality of the Scalambrin family.
Interview with Elena Scalambrin
What gives you inspiration and motivation at the moment? How do you motivate your team?
Even though it is a difficult moment, I think that as soon as it is possible again, people will travel a lot. That’s why we are investing more in marketing now. I try to talk to the team every week and keep them informed about the plans for the future. I have to say that they are really understanding of the situation
What are your plans for 2021? What changes can guests expect? (As far as you can share)
I don’t think the 2021 season will be very different from the 2020 season (unfortunately). From my side, I would like to offer yoga sessions, hikes, and other activities to the customers, but it all depends on when we will be able to open again. In summer you don’t need many activities and with the hot temperatures, the guests enjoy the pool and the garden. Nevertheless, I would like to offer more things to do during the day.
What is your sustainable vision for your hotel?
Currently, we were working on a new photovoltaic system and new solar panels to increase production, the current system is losing a bit of electricity. And if we manage to get some financial help, we will finally install the electric charger.
What do you miss most during this „forced break”?
I miss plans for the future. It is difficult not to be able to plan daily activities and make decisions. After ten years we knew how to organize the working days for the different seasons, but now everything is different at the last minute or can change from one day to the next – this is true for work and private life at the moment.
Do you think Corona will lead to a change in people’s (travel) behavior?
There will be more occasions to travel because many people will be able to work from the resorts. So, I think it is important for us to invest in connectivity. It’s different with business travel, which I think will change a lot.
What are your hopes for this (travel) year?
For now, I hope that we will at least have a good summer. Spring looks uncertain. If we manage to have a summer like last year and another good autumn, we can be satisfied, considering the current situation …
Are there any new restaurants in Borgomaro?
There will be a new restaurant, yes! It will focus heavily on organic and agricultural products: the couple who own the Podere del Maro here in Borgomaro is opening an osteria where they will mainly serve produce from their garden and focus on local products. There will be only a few dishes, changing daily depending on what they have available. They hope to open in spring.
Our conclusion from our own experience: If you are looking for a place to escape to after the hardships of the last 12 months and forget everything, this is the place to go.