A 150 year-long family history

Our history is fairly recent, but we couldn’t establish an exact date for the construction of the hotel.

Following research carried out in the notary archives and the conservatory of the Como real estate registers, we can however say that the construction period was between 1865 (Deed of Purchase) and 1875.

The period in which the piers for sailing on the lake were built on the prosperous banks near the hotel (1841-1873).

The farsighted founder of the Risi hotel was Risi Giovanni (1825-1897), who was born in Bogno, Switzerland, probably of an Italian father, was said to follow the profession of a “stagnino” – the same occupation as his father – making copper pots and ladles.

Most likely, the hotel activity was started as a tavern and, transformed later; we discovered the first time the Hotel Risi was mentioned in the tourist guides, along with three other historical hotels, was 1890 (in Guigoni – a general guide of the sub-alpine lakes and of Brianza).

Risi Giovanni had three daughters, Carolina, Amali and Teresa and, in 1897, at the age of 72, he died in Colico. On the death certificate, his occupation was recorded as a hotelier.

The hotel building passed to the two daughters Teresa, unmarried, and Amalia, who was married to De Bernardi Martino (Carolina died in the same year of birth 1875); from the union of Risi Amalia with De Bernardi Martino, four children were born: Fortunato, Egidio, Pierina and Carolina.

In 1920, the Risi sisters signed a lease for the hotel business for 1,500 lire a year, in favour of De Bernardi Fortunato, his son and nephew. Between 1920 and 1930, Fortunato and Pierina stayed on as the managers but, in the meantime, Risi Amalia died in 1924, and from 1927 to 1931, Lusardi Ugo, the husband of De Bernardi Pierina, took over the shares in the hotel property and De Bernardi and Signora Risi Teresa, became the sole owners.

From the union of Lusardi Ugo and De Bernardi Pierina, three children were born: Achille (1922), Renzo (1924) and Amalia (1926), who found themselves having to manage the hotel among a thousand problems: during this unhappy period, due to historical events of the war, the hotel was requisitioned by the Germans who made it their headquarters, and their mother died prematurely in 1940, as the result of a serious illness.

From the postcards we found, it is clear that the hotel building remained almost unchanged from its construction up to the 1950s.

After the war, with the reconstruction and the economic recovery, the business began to fare a little better Fraterna Lusardi dealt with a first summary restructuring (photo) in the early 50s and then in the ’70s a radical restructuring (photo-picture) was undertaken, to adapt the hotel to the standards to what were demanded by tourists. Above all, the Swiss, Germans and English are lovers of our lake.

Lusardi Achille is married to Palanconi Elide, and gave birth to a son, Ugo (1962) while Renzo got married to Podbielski Reintrud, a German tourist (photo) who was passing through Colico and was to have a daughter Pierina (1964). Their sister Amalia was not to marry, but remained side by side with her brothers and sisters as managers of the hotel’s activities.

The period of management by the Lusardi brothers led to the hotel becoming a reference point for tourist groups in the high lakes, and a mandatory stopover for holidaymakers passing through the Valtellina, due to the reputation acquired by the restaurant, in which they served typical dishes made from family’s unique recipes.

For anyone who wants to try them today, Pierina still offers them, made with the same passion and care in the farm “La Padella” which is unique to Colico. (www.lapadella.net)

Direct management continued until the end of the summer season of 1986, after which, due to Renzo’s advanced age and health problems, they decide to lease the building for use as a hotel.

From 1 January 1987 to 1 December 2003 the Hotel Risi underwent a period of sadness and structural decay as it was rented out, but managed to resist the general tendency for closing hotels to make room for property developers. Since 1980, five similar facilities have been closed with a loss of about 200 beds.

So we arrive at the present day, with Ugo and Pierina, the children of Lusardi Achille and Renzo, who in 2003, in the face of the family property being divided up, reached an agreement in which Pierina, together with her mother, became the sole owners of the property for hotel use, and decided, in concert with the family, to undertake a complete renovation, which was demanded by new safety regulations, and to restore prestige, after a period of management by third parties, to the activities that their ancestors had always undertaken, with passion and abundance . In April 2004, four months after possession of the building was returned, work was completed and direct management of the building was reactivated with the help of the sixth generation and probably future owners, the sons of Lusardi Pierina Claudia 1987 – Stefania 1988 – Renzo 1991.

We are therefore roughly 150 years from the foundation, the names may have changed, but the family remains, with the same the passion, and the story continues …