Wishes From The Grand In The White Bloom Of A Winter Rose

Grand Hotel Tremezzo Gazette 3 Elleboro

If we could travel in time back to December 1911, the first year in the life of Grand Hotel Tremezzo, we would see the place abuzz with excitement. A blanket of snow covered the mountains surrounding Lake Como, much like the light cotton sheets of the same brilliant white covering the furniture in the hotel’s deserted salons.

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And yet – with the frenzy of activity among the Gandola family, the staff and the entire town of Tremezzo – it seemed as if the guests of the palace were still there. We find this scene in Mariuccia’s diary, describing how everyone at Grand Hotel Tremezzo was busy collecting hellebores, those beautiful flowers known as winter roses that – then and now – spring up seemingly randomly in the meadows and woods not far from the hotel. Always a favorite of hers, it was Mrs. Gandola that had chosen these delicate flowers in white with light pink streaks as a year-end gift. Flowers that bloom from December to February when the rest of nature lies dormant

"With our wicker baskets, each of us vied to find the most beautiful bud, only those still closed."

“My mother used to say,” Mariuccia recalls, “that this flower best represents the life of our hotel, one that is full of energy and elegance, ever in bloom even after the guests have gone home. For me, for my playmates and of course for my dog Doc, picking winter roses was one of the happiest times of the year.” The lively group left in the morning and walked along the road to the village of Griante, continuing up the hill past the first houses of Carsolina and along the path that winds through the woods to the Church of San Martino, a spot blessed with one of Lake Como’s most spectacular panoramas. The next day they took a different but equally wonderful route, this time towards the Abbey of San Benedetto, a Romansque jewel from the 11th century. “It was like walking through an enchanted forest. With our wicker baskets, each of us vied to find the most beautiful bud, only those still closed – under the precise instructions of my mother,” Mariuccia continues in her memories.

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Once back inside the hotel, each “gatherer” carried their little treasures into the kitchen to receive a sweet reward, Mariuccia and Doc included. The second team was already assembled around the huge marble tables, only women this time, ready to hand-tie little posies with winter roses, some greenery, a sprig or two of fir and bright orange rosehips plucked from the Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s rose bushes. A green silk ribbon held the stems firmly in place, already immersed in water so they would absorb as much as possible, with another ribbon – this one intertwined with gold thread – to close the box protecting the flowers on their way to the guests. The tiny Tremezzo post office was busy shipping hundreds of these little packages in late December. Mariuccia, blessed with graceful handwriting even as a little girl, was tasked with addressing the packages and writing the greeting cards signed by the entire family. In just a few days, the delicate flowers would have reached their destination in Italy, but also abroad, thanks to the magic of the mail carriers of the day. The warmth inside the homes would coax the buds into bloom, delicate white flower stars heralding a new spring at Grand Hotel Tremezzo.