It’s a hotel terrace like something out of the comedy movies of yesteryear. One would probably only have to stay seated long enough under the green parasols with the white tassels, and at some point Caterina Valente would be dancing around the corner, under the palm trees along the neatly raked, gently curving gravel paths, up the South Tyrolean porphyry stairs, through the open double doors into the Luna bar, past marble counters and velvet-covered bar stools in antique rose. “Come with me to Italy for a bit,” Valente would sing, and the hissing Marzocco espresso machine accompanied the beat with every coffee served.
The transfigured view of the Parkhotel Mondschein is due to the brothers Moritz and Klaus Dissertori. They leased the listed building in the old town of Bozen from the owner family and reopened it in May after several months of renovation. The 32-year-old Moritz Dissertori doesn’t consider himself nostalgic at all: “The house exudes a certain character, you can just feel it,” emphasizes the South Tyrolean. “We wanted to bring him back to life.”
The two now have expertise in this. They now run four hotels. They grew up in the small town of Lana, between Meran and Bozen, in their parents’ Hotel Schwarzschmied, which they have since given a makeover too. A few years ago, a few meters from Schwarzschmied, they opened the Villa Arnica as an adults-only retreat with artistic, sophisticated flair and a pool including a pool house suitable for Saint Tropez in the middle of vineyards, apple trees and the charmingly tended plots of fruit used for the guest kitchen – and vegetable garden. They also had the inn 1477 Reichhalter dusted off in the nearby town center, which bears the year of its first mention in the local annals in its name.
The oldest wing of the Mondschein, which opens onto Bindergasse, is even older than the Reichhalter. From the end of the 13th century, traffic from the Brenner Pass to the city moved through this street, which was named after the influential cooper’s guild. And soon after, they turned in in the moonlight.
Through the archway you can still reach the medieval inner courtyard with two-storey high round arch openings and turned railings, from there to the reception, a connecting building in the mid-century design of the 1960s and finally to the main building from the Belle Époque, whose wide corridors lead to hotel rooms with high ceilings and stucco elements.
The new owners want to build on the old grandezza
“The hotel was once one of the most prestigious in South Tyrol,” says Moritz Dissertori. The brothers want to tie in with these times and also make the house accessible to the locals: “The people of Bozen all know the Parkhotel Mondschein.” The Dissertoris also wanted to reopen the eponymous park for them. So they removed rampant ivy there, planted green spaces, created gravel paths, built a terrace. So that not only hotel guests, but also residents of Bozen can find their way to the Luna Bar, which is also new, to breakfast Cornetto or Eggs Benedict: Where there were hotel rooms on the ground floor, there is now the bar, which Dissertori calls “the heart of the hotel”.
The house was heavy and full, says the businessman and shows a few photos on his mobile phone: Dark Art Nouveau furniture and oil paintings stood side by side, carpets with printed motifs covered the wonderful, now uncovered terrazzo floor. In the sauna area on the ground floor, too, the dissertoris now allow a view into the open vault, from the large yoga room you should soon be able to look through the windows onto an outdoor pool in the park, but permits for this are still missing. On the floors above there are 76 rooms with muted colors and reduced furnishings, subdued light falls on herringbone parquet.
From the rooms on the west side, the view extends to the distinctive peaks of the rose garden group. Wrought-iron balconies bulge out in front of some rooms, lavender smells from terracotta pots, ivy wraps the house in a dense green dress. From the southern windows of the main facade, on the other hand, you can look across the old town to the tree-covered Virgl, the small local mountain of the state capital. Decades ago, Bozner used to be a local recreation area with a swimming pool and tennis courts. Plans by the Signa Group, founded by René Benko, are now being discussed in the city to have a museum quarter for Ötzi built there by the renowned Norwegian architects Snøhetta. Whether it will come to that is still in the stars.
A city map with tips – specially designed for the hotel
How central the Mondschein is in the heart of Bozen can also be seen on the city map that the hoteliers had Anna Quinz draw up. Born in Bozen, she is the editor-in-chief of the “Josef” travel guide series, which presents young and iconic addresses in Meran, Trento and Bozen. Here Quinz describes her home town as “once quite swampy and uninhabitable, then blossomed into a trading town and is now, albeit tentatively, developing.”
This development can also be seen in realizations such as those of the Dissertoris, says the journalist. Or at the other special addresses that she lines up on the hotel city map: the contemporary ceramics in the Tonhaus in the tiny Rauschertorgasse, for example, or the Victorienne on the Obstmarkt, which the Financial Times even voted one of the most elegant women’s clothing stores in all of Europe. Or at the Pizzeria Corso, which is not in the old town, which is mapped by tourists, but on Victory Square near the Talfer Bridge. In the 1930s, the fascist regime created an Italian district in the austere, reduced architecture of modernist razionalismo. Under its high arcades is also the Caffè-Bar and Pizzeria Corso, with antique wooden chairs in front of cobalt blue walls.
“The boss makes the Neapolitan pizza, his wife takes care of the dolci,” explains Quinz. And concludes: “It’s worth getting to know this corner of Bozen to understand the soul of the city.” After all, this is where real, diverse urban life is to be found. The pizzeria is mostly populated by locals, says the South Tyrolean: “But every now and then,” she says with a laugh, “tourists also get lost here.” Which could well be due to their moonlight city map.
Parkhotel Mondschein, Piavestraße 15, 39100 Bolzano, double room/night including breakfast from 240 euros, parkhotelmondschein.com
The research trip for this article was partly supported by tour operators, hotels, airlines and/or tourism agencies.