Albereta = feeling good

Today we start our column on hotels with the portrait of a splendid estate in Franciacorta

by Gabriele Zanatta
A beautiful image of the estate hosting L'Albereta

A beautiful image of the estate hosting L'Albereta in Erbusco (Brescia), a famous Relais&Châteaux establishment owned by the Moretti’s, a family from Franciacorta very active in the building, hospitality and wine sectors. The structure includes 58 rooms and suites, Henri Chenot’s holistic treatments and a triple culinary offer signed by Fabio Abbattista

Little over 22 years have passed since the day Albereta first opened its doors to guests, between the vineyards of the Bellavista hill, in the heart of Brescia’s Franciacorta. On that day, 23rd September 1993 perhaps even patron Vittorio Moretti, an open-minded industrialist, couldn’t imagine that less than a quarter of a century later the rooms would be six times as many, passing from 9 to 58 (of which 9 are suites and 11 junior suites), in 5 different buildings.

Yet perhaps he could already imagine that in 1999 chain Relais & Châteaux would include this estate from the early 20th century in its aspired-to network. And that soon afterwards (in 2003), the patron’s daughter Carmen would convince Henri Chenot, a giant in holistic treatments – admired for his capacity of applying the principles of ancient Chinese medicine to state-of-the-art technologies in western sciences – to open his second medical centre here, today still the only one aside from the headquarters in Merano, Sud Tirol.

THE SKY ABOVE THE ROOM. Room 404: press a button and clouds or stars will appear above the bed

THE SKY ABOVE THE ROOM. Room 404: press a button and clouds or stars will appear above the bed

This can serve to highlight how people go (and go back) to Albereta first of all to feel good. Which means contrasting, as much as possible, the wear and tear of ageing, stress, tiredness, overweight, sleep problems and all the plethora of anxieties and illnesses affecting western people today. With programmes lasting 3, 4 or 7 days and implying eliminating toxins (“detox”) which are the base of our psych-physiological apprehension, “stimulating” cells and “regeneration” after cellular damages. These packages attract clients from all around the world: traditionally, Russians or ex Soviets as well as Asians and Americans.

These people are hardly embarrassed to walk around in bathrobes and slippers, between one treatment and the other, in the very well looked after rooms of the estate: they can enjoy reading a book in front of the fireplace in the Sala Scacchi, sip some herb-tea in the Greeneige Lounge, stop in the calmness of the Library Lounge or, on sunny days, walk in the Parco delle Sculture, 61 hectares of nature bordering with the Bellavista and Contadi Castaldi estates, two wineries under the same ownership. Of course, only if they wish to leave the calm of their rooms, which is hardly granted.

The large spa includes a splendid counter current swimming pool and hydro-massage

The large spa includes a splendid counter current swimming pool and hydro-massage

This said, we reach the fundamental culinary element, which in this case is marginal but only because this column is dedicated to hotels per se. It is worth remembering that fine dining has always been a fixation for the Moretti family. There’s a legendary anecdote according to which on a night in 1993 patron Vittorio, assisted by his friend Gianni Brera, convinced Gualtiero Marchesi to move from Via Bonvesin de La Riva in Milan to Albereta. A moving that included the first 3 Michelin stars ever conquered by an Italian restaurant. The Maestro kept them until 1996, when he moved back to 2 until 2007, the year of the great refusal, when Marchesi refused to be judged by the Red Guide.

Since 1st January 2014 the kitchen is in the sound hands of Fabio Abbattista, 38: Gualtiero’s restaurant today is doubled into the Vistalago Bistrot and the Gourmet Leone Felice restaurant (beside Ristorante Benessere, where Chenot’s principles are put into practice). An important turning point built on delicious South-North acrobatics: Apulia, where the chef was born, and the lake territory the guy proves he can command with an ever-increasing assertiveness. We’ll be back.



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