Toblach, demolished the historic Hotel Post. It had also been among the FAI Places of the Heart

In Toblach, South Tyrol, the historic Hotel Post, a 1920s Habsburg-style building, is being torn down. A commercial complex will be built in its place.

TheHotel Post in Toblach, South Tyrol, no longer exists: in fact, the demolition of the structure has been completed; a commercial complex will be built in its place. This brings to a close an affair that began eight years ago, when the real estate company Mc of Treviso, owner of the building, had submitted a plan for its demolition and reconstruction. The Post had no historical or cultural constraints, and as a result the company, having obtained the appropriate permits, was able to proceed with the demolition. The mayor of Toblach, Martin Rienzner, had spoken of safety concerns and therefore the need to proceed with the demolition. “The Hotel Post has been closed for ten years and safety problems have definitely arisen,” the first citizen declared last week to the South Tyrolean broadcaster RTTR, “because sooner or later the building is collapsing [sic], that is the problem. The decisions made to pull down the Hotel Post were made in 2012, eight years have passed, a signature collection was made three years ago, however, stop there. Now that we have started work half of Italy is standing around to discuss Hotel Post, which has gone through all the procedures it had to go through.”

According to the plan, the new building will be set back six meters from: there will be stores and the upper floors will always have a hotel character. The fact remains that a historic building no longer exists: the Hotel Post, which stood in the central square of the village, in front of the parish church, had in fact risen on the rubble of World War I, and was a building in harmonious Habsburg style, one hundred years strong.

“I wonder why,” Mayor Rienzner continued, “so many people who have moved now did not move eight years ago, or maybe even earlier: now when the train has left it is useless to complain, it should have been done earlier, now it is.” But in fact it is not true that no one, even in past years, moved: the first citizen himself mentioned the collection of signatures to save the Hotel, organized by art historian Francesco Vincenti and which had been able to collect 4,400 signatures, even more than the inhabitants of Toblach (which has 3,360). “Hotel Post, built on the ruins of an old hotel just after the end of World War I,” the text of the petition read, “is a hotel structure of considerable historical and aesthetic value and through photographs and vintage postcards it can be restored and brought to its former glory as well as adapted to the most modern bioenergy comforts. The project submitted for sale involves total demolition and a reconstruction that raises many aesthetic questions. In the first instance, respect for the old hotel structure or at least variants from the project presented is demanded.”

And to save the structure, even cultural personalities had moved, above all Vittorio Sgarbi, who already three years ago denounced the end that could have beenfallen the hotel, and who in recent days had returned to the subject with some fiery interventions, both on his social accounts and in the press. “It is obvious to everyone,” Sgarbi wrote in Il Giornale on Nov. 18, “that destroying a De Chirico, Picasso or Morandi painting from 1920 would be inconceivable, while it can quietly happen that a building from that same year, from 100 years ago, is demolished, with the aggravating circumstance that this is happening in front of everyone’s eyes, in the indifference of the authorities competent, of the president of the Region, of the Councillors, of the Superintendent, and with the complicity of the mayor of Toblach, Martin Rienzner, who has just been elected but is already a candidate as a worthy successor to Ciancimino.”

“The square in front of Dobbiaco’s Baroque church,” Sgarbi continued, “is a place that has for a hundred years-a public space of shared immaterial perception, like any historic square, beyond private ownership, like a palace in Verona’s Piazza delle Erbe-a unified aesthetic dimension, with the old post office, now restored, and the old hotels in front of it. The appearance of the square, in evidence, responds to the canons of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and this historical identity had to be preserved in its unity, including the volume and bulk of the Hotel Post. A child, studying in elementary school, would understand this. The mayor of Toblach would not.” How can one, the art historian wondered in conclusion, “erase all this with a gutting that has a political and utilitarian flavor? The project that the developer wants to implement is, in my opinion and not only in my opinion, a very bad replacement. Gutting is unnecessary; St. John’s Church has never been visible in its entirety. Not even philologically does this urban intervention make sense! Greater visibility of the steeple is a pretext that has too serious an aesthetic cost. The enhancement of monuments is not done by isolating them from their context. It is an outdated concept since the postwar period.”

The Hotel Post had also joined the FAI’s Places of the Heart: a few votes, about 40, so not enough to allow the building to be saved, but still another action that shows care for the structure (“it’s a scandal,” commented Simona Kettmeir, president of the FAI Bolzano delegation). And then again other interventions in defense of the Post by personalities not only of culture (in recent weeks Giulio Tremonti and Franco Debenedetti, among others, have moved), parliamentary questions. Journalist for the daily Alto Adige Paolo Campostrini, in one of his articles, also points the finger at the lack of involvement of the citizenry: “In Toblach it is a blame-shifting. The mayor, Martin Rienzner, throws up his hands and offloads on his predecessors (”it’s a story, this of the Posta that has lasted for ten years“), the provincial councillor, responsible for heritage, Massimo Bessone, proclaims himself innocent and passes the ball to the councillor responsible for town planning, Maria Hochgruber Kuenzer; who does the same and charges on the Superintendence, also provincial. Which in turn placed no constraints in charge of the Post. In short, a Province that not even Pilate in Jerusalem. The difference being that, unlike the proconsul of Judea before washing his hands, he did not even ask the people what they would like to choose between the Posta and private individuals. He chose not to choose or even to let them choose. And now everyone has their towel ready to cleanse themselves.” But it is all useless now, the Post no longer exists: we will see what the next steps will be of those who did not want the abatement.

Toblach, demolished the historic Hotel Post. It had also been among the FAI Places of the Heart
Toblach, demolished the historic Hotel Post. It had also been among the FAI Places of the Heart

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