Sleeping in a Museum
Palazzo Lambertenghi has likely stood in the little Italian border town of Tirano since the 1400s. It belonged to the noble Lazzaroni family until it was confiscated by Napoleon in the late 1700s. After many changes of fortune it fell into the hands of the Lambertenghis who converted it into a museum and recently opened several rooms to (some very fortunate!) guests. The history is palpable even as you approach the house through the narrow streets and up to the forged iron gate. The typical tower house was originally fortified by a high stone wall and a heavy wooden door that could shut out enemies, but today it welcomes visitors. Two wings flank the main building surrounding an internal courtyard filled with flowers and the sound of bells chiming from the nearby church.
The museum quality furnishings have been passed down for generations, and we often found ourselves whispering, so that we could preserve the heaviness and quiet of our surroundings. A large Jesus statue stared down at us from above the bed, walls and ceilings are lined with carved wood and heavy draperies, the artwork is ornate and gilded.
Each morning our hostess Marialuisa Lambertenghi served a generous breakfast of sweet croissants, Italian cheeses and the regional Bresaolo salami which is sliced on a dedicated machine (the size of a person). We shared it with the two family dogs Bart and Pumba on the sly, who were the only ones who dared to disturb the quiet.
On a rainy morning when you head toward the hills you can picture the area at it's height, sturdy castles dot the hills along the main road and play hide and seek in the mountain fog. And when the clouds clear, its the perfect time to drive up the 35 hairpin turn of the infamous Stelvio Pass, then descend into the underground Roman baths of Bormio. (more on those wonders to come in my post on the Alps)
Ken shot some amazing video of the palazzo which I'm excited to share bits of and I managed to catch an audio clip of the bells in the courtyard.
PRACTICAL STUFF: A one night stay for two persons is $120 euros in high season. The drive is beautiful but if you'd rather arrive by train, Tirano is the last stop on the infamous Bernina Express.