“If it doesn’t burn a little
then what’s the point of playing with fire?”
The hotel, which have the name of the homonymous peak of over three thousand meters, always a destination for mineral seekers, was the symbol, at the beginning of the twentieth century, of the Belle Epoque. It was meeting place for alpinists and families from the cities who loved the Ossola mountains, where good food and rivers of sparkling wine rewarded the audacious climbers while the orchestras played waltzes and mazurkes until the early hours. In those years, was dedicated a song by the local singer Cavalier Giovanni Leoni (1846-1920) who used the pseudonym of “Pastizza“. He was also the founder of the “Pro Devero Company”, in 1910, to promote the development of the tourism in this enchanting paradise: “paradis di nost montagn, che in nissun sit igh n’han un alt compagn”.
He wasn’t a climber, or an alpinist, but a food lover, and wanted above all to emphasize in his verses an aspect of Devero that he loved: the good cuisine of the Cervandone hotel, in this years at the height of its splendor. This is the original version:
In Antighori i ghan ul Scervandon,
quel pizz ch’u gha la forma d’un crocant;
par nagh ugh vol un alpinista bon,
ma tornand ju glorios e trionfant
in Dévar, a l’albergo u trovarà
la tavla pronta e ‘l lecc par riposà.
This verses are write in one italian dialect, and translation is impossible for me, but Leoni was certainly a character. When he was 24 years, lived in Paraguay whit his brother Costantino, in Montevideo, where created the “Leoni Hermanos”, a profitable commercial activity. He bought a ship with fifteen crewmen and sailed the cold waters of Patagonia carrying all sorts of goods, until 1886 when he finally liquidated the company and returned to Italy where he lived until his death. In winter he lived in Domodossola, Bologna and Turin, while spended the summer in Mozzio, place that became, at the end, his home. For over twenty years he wrote original and satirical poems in dialect, published with the title “Rime Ossolane”.
Since 1972 the Cervandone Hotel is sadly closed and until 2003 it was owned by Enel, which had also made it accommodation for the families of who worked in hydroelectric plants. Subsequently some of its rooms and the hall were used for various events, until the end, when a century of history was destroyed by the flames and the symbolic hotel of the Alp Devero was the victim of an accident in december 2015. The owner of a B&B not far away, saw the flames in the night and gave the alarm at 5.30 in the morning, but now the hotel is still burned and haven’t the roof.