COURMAYEUR – The last customers tried to hold out until the last. Then yesterday morning they literally threw in the towel: not a drop of water came out of the shower to wash. And they packed their bags, like everyone else. The awakening was abrupt for the guests of the hotels in Courmayeur, one of the most famous resorts in the Alps, at the foot of Mont Blanc. With the Ferragosto bridge close by and an already high flow of tourists, “it was a weekend to forget” says Stefano Cavaliere, president of the hoteliers.
The landslide in Val Ferret last week, triggered by a storm, seriously damaged the aqueduct, with the consequent interruption of the supply of water initially only in some hamlets. A discomfort that exploded over the weekend with the sudden lack of water throughout the town where there are charming hotels, historic cafes, restaurants and cocktail bars. Hotel guests started leaving their rooms on Saturday evening, when the taps were already running dry. While bars and brasseries lowered their shutters ahead of time, and in supermarkets the shelves of water bottles were already empty.
The Municipality of Courmayeur also issued a notice to report that the water was not drinkable and had to be boiled for food use. It has also set up two distribution points for canisters for stocks. Yesterday morning since 7 there were already many people in line, vacationers and residents, with buckets and demijohns at the ancient stone fountain of Villair, one of the few just outside the town disconnected from the municipal aqueduct, where once women went to wash clothes. “True luxury is water, now we understand it – comments Attilio Ollier, an old mountain guide from Courmayeur – This is still mountains and more and more frequent natural disasters put this fragility in front of us”. The workers worked tirelessly to restore the pipes broken by the landslide and clean the tanks of debris: “The repair work is proceeding rapidly – explains the mayor Roberto Rota – and we are recording a gradual and partial recovery of the supply service in our area” .
The emergency should be over already this morning. But yesterday was a day of escapes and cancellations of hotel customers and owners of second homes who have returned to the cities. Several bars and restaurants, such as the elegant Caffé Della Posta, have closed since they cannot use the water to prepare even just a coffee or to wash the dishes. Others, like Goù or Le Dahu, the two aperitif spots in the center, have remained open, serving spritzes and beers only in plastic cups. The Baita Ermitage, a typical Aosta Valley restaurant frequented by illustrious holidaymakers from Courmayeur, also stopped the service at dinner: “Without water there is little to do – says the owner Piero Savoye – we were able to serve Sunday lunch, using plastic cups, but we had to give up on dinner “.
At the Auberge de la Maison in the hamlet of Entrèves, where Chiara Ferragni and Fedez often stay, there was no water for several days and the staff jumped through hoops, including supplies and buckets of water, to manage a practically unmanageable situation . “The landslide was a natural tragedy, luckily no people were involved and this is the most important thing – says the owner Alessandra Garin looking for a positive side – Unfortunately the service for all of us operators was very complicated, but never as much as that of workers and technicians who are working miracles to bring everything back to normal “.
It was an absurd interlude in the summer season of one of the main mountain tourist resorts. “In our family hotel, the Gran Baita – adds Cavaliere – we were full, but already on Saturday evening we closed the brasserie, then on Sunday morning almost all our guests inevitably left their rooms. Someone wanted to stay longer, but then faced with objective limits, he had to do like the others “.