Over the last few years, Italy has emerged as a proud leader in solar energy and eco-friendly projects, from Perugia’s energy-generating canopy over the historic Via Mazzini, to Syracuse’s brand new Archimede solar power plant. After having installed 720 megawatts of photovoltaic panels last year, the country is now planning the world’s largest solar park in Rovigo, near Venice. And as these four eco-friendly hotels demonstrate, it appears that even Italy’s hospitality sector has taken notice of the encouraging trend.
Lagació Mountain Residence, South Tyrol
Opened in December 2009 by Margareth and Pio Canins, the Lagació Mountain Residence is situated in the picturesque ski resort of Alta Badia in the Dolomites. The eco-friendly hotel and spa (certified by the CasaClima agency) was built using local wood and slate, while its low-energy consumption is achieved through thermal insulation, compact design and an intelligent programme which monitors the residence’s standard energy requirements. The 24 one- and two-bedroom suites come with their own kitchen; guests can pre-order a shopping basket crammed with regional specialities and organic fruit and vegetables. Micurá de Rü 48, San Cassiano, Alta Badia, www.lagacio.com
Mod 05, Veneto
Located between Verona and Lake Garda, Mod 05 boasts a striking façade of large shutters made of phenolic panels cut and painted to look like oak and chestnut wood. Used to screen out the direct sun during the warm months, the shutters can also be left wide open to reveal the guestrooms’ private balconies. Rooftop solar panels cover most of the building’s heating, hot water and electricity requirements, including the hotel’s light installations designed by Mario Nanni. Inside, the spacious public areas are furnished with pieces by Patricia Urquiola, Andrés Bluth and Lievore Altherr Molina, while the 36 rooms showcase colourful artworks by young contemporary artists.
Via Modigliani 5, Sandrà di Castelnuovo del Garda, www.modfive.it
Bella Vista Hotel, South Tyrol
Work on the semi-subterranean Bella Vista Hotel began in 2009 and is expected to be completed by 2011. Designed by Milan-based architect Matteo Thun, the hotel is designed to blend into its environment: its 11 separate structures, constructed using natural materials found in the surrounding area, are literally built into the mountain slope beneath the steep Stelvio Pass. Bella Vista was conceived to live up to KlimaHotel’s (the first international seal of certification for eco-friendly hotels) three tenets: ecology, economy and socio-cultural consideration, so that the visitor is guaranteed eco-transparency. www.matteothun.com
Hotel Elda, Trentino
This Lake Garda hotel has been run by the same family since 1949, when Elda, the grandmother of current owner Andrea Pregl, decided to open her house to guests. Of course, a few things have changed since grandma Elda. In 2007, Pregl, a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, invited his friend, the architect Lara Zoccatelli, to help rebuild the place in an eco-friendly fashion. He also commissioned interior designer Simona Rampoldi to create interiors that would be in harmony with the hotel’s new architecture. The result is a design-savvy hotel that also boasts low energy consumption and two garden pools that collect rain water, which is then used for gardening, washing machines, and other hotel maintenance requirements. As of next year, Hotel Elda’s electric power will be provided by photovoltaic panels and water heated by solar panels. Via Tre Giugno 3, Lenzumo di Concei, www.hotelelda.com