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When history is forgotten

Di Antonio Caneva, 7 novembre 2013

It is not many years ago than in Milan, in Via Lomazzo, the scrapers started to demolish the Sole 24 Ore building, and the demolition work went on for a long time, leaving an open wound between two buildings. Looking on it from the street, at that time, I was struck by seeing a honeycomb of rooms that seemed to be hanging on the wall of the adjacent building, left without a wall on the side, exposing to sight the interior of former offices, now dismal, bare spaces. I could not help thinking of those same spaces only a few months back, full of activity, busy with people working and networking. Now they were there, empty and sad.
Yesterday, driving along Via Valtellina, in a district which, before the advent of the European Community and the Euro, used to be devoted to customs offices and shipping companies, and was later converted to restaurants and discotheques, I caught sight of a house, still incompletely demolished, which showed the interiors of rooms where families had lived, with their histories and experiences, and it was a touching sight.
In our latest newsletter – a surprise to me, too – there was a report listing ten hotels where history not only had dwelled, but was in fact made: http://www.jobintourism.it/job/selezionehrs.php .
These are assets to be preserved, which, out of superficiality, are often not given adequate visibility. If we feel nostalgia when we have a glimpse of a room that was once lived in, and no longer exists, why not bring out the value of places that are still existing and alive, carrying the scars and charm of time?
Ranking first, in the newsletter I mentioned, is the Beau Rivage of Lausanne where I used to work in the Sixties; there, next to the external shop arcade, a marble bas-relief covering an entire wall depicted the 1912 peace between Italy and the Ottoman Empire, which had been signed in that same hotel, under the direction of Count Volpi, who later became the creator of CIGA ( Compagnia Italiana Grandi Alberghi).
Some time ago I went to the Beau Rivage, a fantastic hotel, to interview one of the managers; to my disconcert, he was no longer aware of that piece of historical memory which, he thought, had probably been moved to the park…
How sad.

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