The story of the Molinari family is quite similar to many others in the area, but their inheritance stands tall and proud right in the middle of Bedonia, and has been witness to a lot of sacrifice and pain.
Many years back, Luigi Molinari purchased the Hotel San Marco from Mr Bruno Squeri, and for a long period of time, it was run by externals who rented the building. But, at a certain point, the tenants no longer wished to continue managing the hotel, and a decision needed to be taken. Luigi Molinari at the time ran a successful icecream business in England with his family, and a meeting was held between them all in order to agree upon a course of action.
It was Donato, one of Luigi’s sons, who, with much determination and a great deal of courage, decided to take on an enormous challenge – that of totally restructuring the hotel. Donato, a very outgoing and hard-working man, was the kind who could put his hand to anything, be it masonry, carpentry, electrical matters….plus he had an excellent head for business. So it was that he moved to Italy in 1982 in order to monitor and collaborate with the renovation work, whilst his wife Anita, and their little girl Daniela, followed suit a couple of years later, after having sold their house in England.
They soon discovered what an overbearing job they had taken on; the structure was very old and extremely dilapidated by time and lack of proper maintenance. The initial project was ambitious and complex in itself, but, around every corner, yet another unforeseen obstacle would crop up, and the light at the end of the tunnel seemed to grow further away with each day that passed. At one point, they even realized that an underground river actually ran through the cellars of the place!…..But Donato had no intention of giving up, and, thanks to Anita’s loving support, he soldiered on for almost six years, until the transformation was complete.
And transformation it truly was – the Hotel San Marco, like the phoenix, was literally reborn from its ashes; it now has 24 comfortable, modern rooms, all with independant bathrooms (not even contemplated previously), a swimming pool on the roof, a lovely outside terrace, a bar, and an ample dining room/lounge which regularly accomodates wedding parties and the like. Since our little town had never seen anything of the sort, this brand new, sparkling hotel was considered a luxury, and became the feather in Bedonia’s cap! It was patronized by a clientele seeking that something extra, and due to this fact, Anita, who in the meantime had made a timid entrance into the kitchens, prefered to employ professionals who could easily cope with the high standards the family was reaching for. So Gianfermo Negri, a qualified chef, was set to deal with the meat dishes, whilst Ms Eva Conti saw to desserts and first dishes. Anita is very grateful to both of them for having given her assistance at the most critical stage, and wanted us to remember them. We did, very willingly.
While all this restructuring was going on, the Molinari family grew; after Daniela, Fabio, now 36, came along. Then Roberto, now aged 34 made his appearance, and last but not least, Vanessa was born in 1990. This is where the sadness began, because Vanessa unfortunately had serious health issues, and tragically passed at just 18 years of age. It was a painful time for them all, but this close-knit family, thanks to the strength of two extraordinary parents, stuck together in their suffering, and continued to look towards the future.
In the meantime, having completed his basic schooling, Fabio decided to train at the Serramazzoni catering college at Modena, in the hope of being able to give his contribution to the family business. This turned out to be a revelation, because he happily discovered that being a chef was not only exactly what he wanted to do in life, but that he was also very talented. To this day, he thanks Gianfermo Negri (who has since passed away, but will not be forgotten), for all the advice and tricks taught to him – precious experience which made of Fabio the excellent chef he is today. And while Fabio was busy in the kitchen, Daniela and their youngest brother Roberto, learned to deal with waiting service, bookings, bartending, and general administration. All functions shared with their doting father Donato – until that terrible day in 2008, when he suffered a tremendous stroke. Anita recalls that it was March 8th, Womens’ Day, and he was waiting at tables as usual, when he began to feel dizzy……an ambulance was hastily called, but the stroke was particularly serious, and caused much damage. Thanks to the expertise of the doctors, Donato’s life was spared, but he was consequently unable to walk, and was impaired in speech.
Needless to say, this was another devastating blow after the death of Vanessa, but Anita and her three remaining children were nevertheless thankful to have had their beloved husband and father with them for eight more years……after which he left for his last journey. They are certain that he is watching over them.
So this family has had more than its fair share of toil and trouble. But seeing the love passing between Anita and her daughter Daniela while they were telling us their story, and hearing of the incredible pride (literally tears in her eyes) Anita has in her children, who are carrying on their father’s heritage with passion and responsability – it was enough to renew our faith in mankind.