There was the usual bottle of wine in our room at L’Albero Nascosto in Trieste, but also a notice pointing out that hotels.com take 18% commission from hoteliers and that the best way to support independent hotels like this one is to book direct. In fact we’d done so.
On the afternoon of our arrival we saw an elderly gentleman sitting in the courtyard with a glass of wine. The next morning we saw him clearing the breakfast tables. It was the owner, Aldo Stock. The hotel has his personal touch and is full of things he’s chosen – antique furniture, paintings by Trieste artists and books. There’s also a lounge with an art and design library.
You get a taste of the hotel from its own description: “Our boutique hotel is an eighteenth-century building, without a lift. In its rarefied silence you will be able to appreciate the white stone of Istria, the wood of the walnut tree, of the elm and the cherry, and the precious column from Roman times.”
Aldo used to be an antique dealer, still does some dealing and has a store which you can visit on request.
We went with him to see it a few blocks away. “Dealing in antiques was an elegant occupation,” he said, “But I got tired of it and I prefer to be in the hotel, meeting different people every day.”
His passions are glass and wood. There are items by Gallé and Venini and furniture chosen for its beautiful veneers. Each of the ten rooms is named after a tree.
“Have you lived in Trieste all your life?”
“Except for the first few years. My parents were Jewish and we escaped to Switzerland when I was a baby.” Trieste, which has one of the largest synagogues in Europe, then had a Jewish population of 5,000, now reduced to 500.
He also spent a couple of years in London as a student. “What did you study?” “That wasn’t the important thing: I was in London to learn English.” His English is fluent and his staff speak it well. Spanish, German and French are also spoken.