We're only a guesthouse, but we think being responsible towards the environment and our local area is important. We donate 5% of our income to Orobie National Park - one of four nature reserves covering 2000Km2 of mountains in our area. Our heating and hot water come from a stove that runs on wood and recycled paper pellets, and our electricity comes from hydroelectricity!
For more information read on..
The area - staying at Casa dell'Ava allows our guests to explore some of the largest and most important nature reserves in the Alps
Casa dell'Ava is situated in an area of outstanding beauty close to three of the largest national parks in the Alps, covering a massive 2000Km2 within Italy and Switzerland. The Swiss National Park is the only National Park in Switzerland. Together with the adjoining Stelvio National Park, they form a giant area of protected land across the two countries. The Orobie Valtellinesi Park is a further protected area to the NE of Lake Como
If this wasn't enough, there are a further two Nature Reserves and a National Monument all within 30mins drive of the house. The Nature Reserve of Marmite dei Giganti contains ancient rock carvings and glacial rock formations. The Pian di Spagna Nature Reserve is an important area of wetland and sanctuary for birds migrating over one of the lowest passes in the Alps. Finally you can see the Acquafraggia Waterfalls (National Monument) from the village of the house.
The area - the region is rich in wildlife and has some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the Alps
The parks contain many protected species of wildlife including Golden Eagles, Ibex, Bearded Vultures, Capercaillie and Fire Salamanders. There is talk of Lynx and Wolves arriving back into the area and famously Brown Bears have recently been reintroduced into the Adamello Brenta National Park which adjoins the Stelvio National Park
The area is rich and varied in plant life. There are many diverse habitats as you move from the valley forests up to the mountain tops. The Orobie Park lists nearly 600 species of rare, endemic or protected plants including lovely purple lilies and many alpine meadow flowers
The Granite rock of the Bernina-Bregaglia region has created some of the most spectacular mountains in the Alps, where famous Italian mountaineers like Cassin pioneered routes. Some of the mountains like Pizzo Cengalo and Piz Badile have granite spires and rock faces over a kilometre high. Beautiful mountain valleys have also been created - Val di Mello calls itself the 'Yosemite of Europe' with lovely waterfalls cascading from the granite sides of the valley
The house has been restored in a way to help conserve energy and water
The house has been restored in a way sympathetic to its style and age, however where possible we have introduced ways to conserve energy and water.
Heating and hot water for the house is provided using a stove that runs on recycled paper pellets. We are intending to install solar panels which will link to our hot water system. All electricity for the house is provided from hydroelectric schemes via an electricity coop run from the local town. Double glazed windows have been fitted throughout the house
To conserve water, we have installed a shower in the house rather than a bath. In addition both toilets are new and have reduced water flush Split waste disposal is available in bins at the entrance to the village (paper, plastic, cardboard, glass) and further split waste disposal (organic, metal) is available 6 days a week in the local town
Instructions and information are provided to guests and workers at the house including a travellers code, information on reducing energy and water consumption, information on how and where to dispose of waste, and information on visiting National Parks
While we anticipate that most guests will arrive by car, public transport timetables are available at the house
Guests are provided with information to help get to know the mountains and the National parks better
While staying at Casa dell'Ava our guests will be able to enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery around the house including visiting the nature reserves mentioned. We provide information on walks and activities on our website, which is also available printed out at the house. Guests can also visit the visitor centres of the parks and get involved in activities such as guided walks
- Swiss National Park visitor centre
- Orobie wildlife observation centre and activities
- Stelvio visitor centres and activities
Unlike English National parks, Italian parks do not generally have voluntary work schemes (eg path building, conservation projects etc). We ask the parks to let us know when activities are available
The area - many mountain villages in Italy (which are not eg ski resorts) are more economically depressed that you would think
Many thousands of mountain villages in the Italian Alps have been emptied by an exodus of people during the last century to larger towns and cities. These mountain villages are often in beautiful positions, but are now left empty or partly empty.
Pianazzola, the village where Casa dell'Ava is situated, is no exception. While regeneration of houses in the village has begun, about 30% of the buildings are in need of restoration. Although the village has a bar (part of Corrina's house!) it no longer has a shop or school
The house has been restored using local craftsmen and now employs local people
Most of the work on the house was carried out by craftsmen actually living in the village. The builder, carpenter and electrician live there, as have generations of their families. The house is cleaned by Mari, who lives locally in Chiavenna
Visitors staying in the house will benefit the local community
Most of the income received from visitors will pass into the local community. This is because the money will be used to repay an interest-free loan that was used to buy the house and restore it. The house was purchased from a local family, and the restoration was carried out by local craftsmen. Once the loan is repaid, income will be used to continue to restore the house (see below) and to fund similar schemes in the village
(In addition to factors affecting social policy above)
The house has been restored in a way sympathetic to local traditions and materials
We have taken care to preserve original features of the house eg uncovering a lovely granite staircase and restoring an antique chestnut woodern floor. Different pastel colours were traditionally used in decoration (rose, yellow, green, indigo etc) and a modern interpretation of this has been used to decorate the rooms
We are planning to restore the roof (restoring the original 'piota' stone tiles), terrace (replacing the concrete and iron terrace with a woodern one) and walls (stripping back the plaster to stonework underneath). These are all major projects and will be only completed once we have raised money for the work
Guests will be made aware of local suppliers and services
Little information exists in English for visitors to this area. For this reason we have written a complete guide to the area including restaurants, activities, shops etc. This is available on our website as well as at the house. We have been working with the local tourist agency and they are using the site to help English speaking visitors, including those not staying with us. In return they have let us use their photography for free
Guest are directed towards local suppliers produce etc in notes at the house. In addition our local contact Mari is on hand for questions that guests may have.