Family hospitality and local delicacies have made La Griglia di Argegno – nestled in the heart of Valle d’Intelvi – a popular destination for “slow” tourism. Immersed in the greenery of the hills overlooking Lake Como, the hotel restaurant is managed by the Martinelli family, who have turned it into an ideal location for people in the pursuit of a relaxing holiday and good food.
When was the business founded?
“La Griglia was founded in the 1970s when my parents – who are now in their 80s and still working – took over the hotel next to Santuario di Sant’Anna. At the time, it consisted of about six bedrooms and a small restaurant, but over the years we’ve improved our facilities by investing in and improving our services. We’ve expanded our kitchen and extended our dining rooms, which are decorated in a historical country-house style and fitted with fireplaces, curtains and painted walls. Guests can also make use of the hotel restaurant’s outdoor veranda, set in the hotel grounds or our 11 modern bedrooms, which are decorated with furniture inspired by the local area.”
Has the hotel’s clientele changed over the years?
“We have loyal customers who visit us every year. Sometimes they pop down for the weekend or to enjoy specialities from the local area. We also host a lot of families and young English, Irish, French, Dutch and Swedish travellers, as well as a few Russian and Australian guests. These days you can no longer rely on word of mouth, you have to have an online presence and make sure you’re listed on tourism websites.”
Why are people choosing to talk about experiences rather than holidays?
“Because the hospitality industry is constantly evolving, and guests want to have an authentic experience during their stay. Essentially, people are on the lookout for a unique holiday that’s more than just a holiday in itself. In fact, we welcome people of all ages from all over the world who want to be more than just external observers, they want an authentic holiday experience. A certain authenticity that enhances the tourist experience: from finding out about local food traditions to nature, history and art.”
Does the surrounding area give the business added value?
“Absolutely, but what makes a good hotelier is the ability to get guests involved, to understand their needs and the kind of holiday they want to experience, while offering specific services.”
Do you have any examples?
“We organise 360-degree day experiences, recommending a wide range of itineraries that I personally try out in person. We offer activities on the lake and in the surrounding hills and mountains. We’re hoping to offer guests the possibility to rent electric mountain bikes to accompany their trips to places such as the Cadorna Line trenches in the mountains on the border with Switzerland. We also have about 200 wine labels on display in our wine cellar, which is soon to be renovated and opened up to guests, who will be able to discover wine-related secrets, choose a bottle – including some of our precious vintages – and take a look at our Magnum collections and regional specialties.”
Is the hotel entirely managed by your family?
“It always has been. I mainly deal with guests and the wine cellar, while my sister Bruna deals with the kitchen. Together we’re carrying on our parents’ tradition, because this is a hotel where you feel at home and where a family atmosphere reigns supreme in the name of local cuisine.”
What do you consider to be your restaurant’s winning ingredient?
“We take traditional dishes, modernise them and bring them into the 21st century. All of our food is made using fresh, high-quality produce from carefully selected suppliers. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to braised meat and polenta uncia – true Como specialties, as well as seasonal mushrooms and fish from the lake. We try to prepare everything at the hotel, such as fresh pasta and hand-cut pizzoccheri, and our menus always reflect what’s in season.”
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