4925 – the number of kilometres ingredients travel to get to hotel Ciasa Salares in San Cassiano. Stefan Wieser is the hotel owner, gourmet and sommelier. He invented the ‘real food miles’ formula. “South Tyrol has a restricted food and wine tradition. We don’t want to deny ourselves the great variety of fine food that we have here in Italy. So what harm is there in ordering spaghetti from Campania, and getting our bread from Eugenio Pol in Piedmont, who never takes a holiday so he can look after his twenty-five-year-old yeast?”
At the back of the hotel there is a vegetable garden which yields its very best in spring. Hilde, 85-year-old mother of Stefan, with her white chignon, apron and Ferragamo courts, shows it with pride: “Look at these fine cauliflowers this year”, and before leaving, she puts one in a bag for me to take home as a souvenir of my stay in Alta Badia.
Stefan Wieser seeks out Italian delicacies. Then there is the practical art of tasting: cooked ham and Torrefazione Giamaica coffee by Gianni Frasi for breakfast. As an aperitif, Modernessia Spanish gin and craft tonic, or a Bloody Mary with tomatoes from Pian del Grillo, in the province of Ragusa, accompanied by rice arancino balls and panzanella salad. There is a chocolate room with sixty or so chocolates and pralines of every kind and origin. The selection of gins is the work of Clemens, who has inherited his father Stefan’s passion, despite his mere 25 years. He has been raised in the cult of gastronomic research, and at four in the afternoon you’ll find him bustling about in the wine cellar for the evening’s tasting sessions. More than a cellar, it is an encyclopedia of Italian wines, with 24,000 bottles and 1,800 labels, focusing on Friuli and biodynamic wines, plus a list of craft beers. The bottles are archived on the shelves like books, for instant “consultations”. On wooden tables, and paired with the wines, you can sample machine- or knife-cut speck, Stefano Montali’s prosciutto crudo from Langhirano, 60 cheeses selected from Italy’s finest, since South Tyrolean ones are good, but few. Then there are two different types of cuisine, the regional trattoria and the two Michelin-starred Siriola restaurant, helmed by Matteo Metullio, aged 30.
The family works in the 50-room hotel, mainly renovated according to the taste of Vilma, Stefan’s wife, who looks after the contemporary yet at the same time Tyrolean decor. The rooms have the scent of Swiss pine, and the spa boasts an indoor swimming pool and up-to-date playlist. It is uncommon to book a four-star, yet feel like you are in a five-star for its quality and services.
Strada Prè de Vì, 31, 39030, San Cassiano