CFP The Grand Hotels as Powerhouses of Change, 1870 – 1930 (16-17 October 2015)

International Conference
The Grand Hotels as Powerhouses of Change, 1870 – 1930: an investigation of Alpine and Subalpine areas from the lakes to the mountains
Riva del Garda | Museum
16 – 17 October 2015
The territories that witnessed major developments in tourism around the turn of the 20th century are also very often evaluated in the light of the ‘experience’ of the Grand Hotels, and more in general of the development of a hospitality infrastructure, i.e. of new, complex and imposing facilities which in this period became commonplace throughout Europe, involving the work of numerous architects and a range of other professional figures in their complex building process.
The conference is designed to investigate the theme of the Grand Hotels in relation to the modifications implemented to the contexts in which they were built, in order to understand to what extent it might be right to look on these structures as factors of territorial development. In general terms, this will allow us to contribute to the knowledge of specific local contexts, as well as putting forward comparisons and points of reflection, also between different disciplines, branching out to the themes of the preservation of landscape and architectural heritage.
In particular, contributions are sought which are capable of analysing:

  • transformations of the urban and landscape morphology of the places concerned, produced by the building of facilities especially for hospitality, as well as changes made to the ways of building and the services provided by a territory which had been unknown up until then (for example, the practice of creating health centres throughout alpine and subalpine regions);
  • aspects linked to the image and languages used in the Grand Hotel project which often aimed to achieve an international character and recognisability, yet in which we may also find references linked to the protection of local identity (especially in those ‘borderland’ territories);
  • changes that took place on an economic and social level in relation to the so-called ‘travel industry’ with reference to the strategies of valorisation of local resources by both private and institutional subjects (also in relation to innovations and reforms of the infrastructures);
  • the protagonists, or rather, the network of protagonists, that allowed for these changes and thus the transformations that took place in the social and cultural fabric of these places;
  • modern-day experiences of the valorisation of historical tourist structures and the contexts in which they are placed.

The choice of contributions will include both ones of a ‘theoretical’ nature, aimed at highlighting the above-mentioned themes within a given disciplinary framework, and also those linked to a specific territorial context or the comparison of various experiences, yet always within the geographical and limits and the time span defined in the title of the conference.
In particular, proposals will be selected referring to the lakeside settings of Northern Italy (Lakes Garda, Maggiore and Como) and the alpine and subalpine regions (Italy, Switzerland, Austria, etc.). Furthermore, the period between the 1870s and the 1930s makes it possible to draw on a range of different situations: from the early days of tourism and the prevalence of hospitality structures linked to largely local enterprises (inns, and the transformation of villas into hotels, etc.), only to pass on to the heyday of the Grand Hotels, right through to the interwar years, which ushered in a radical change compared to the structures built in the early 20th century.
In the selection process, preference will be given to the use of primary sources, and those providing original interpretations of the theme in hand. The interventions selected will be split into thematic sessions.
Organisational Aspects:
Venue: Riva del Garda | Museum
Dates: Friday 16th – Saturday 17th October 2015
Length of interventions: 20 minutes
Languages: Italian and English
Expenses: the speakers will be reimbursed for travelling expenses and bed and board in Riva del Garda (for one night).
The paper proposals of a maximum of 500 words must be delivered by 12pm of 15th July 2015 to the following address: and must be accompanied by a brief curriculum. After said date, the MAG will send a reply stating whether or not the proposed paper has been accepted.
At the end of the conference, the MAG will bring together the various papers which together will create a published volume.
Scientific Committee:
Roland Flückiger (Swiss Tourism Heritage and Swiss Historic Hotels)
Andrea Leonardi (University of Trento)
Monica Ronchini (Riva del Garda Town Council)
Ornella Selvafolta (Milan Polytechnic)
Monica Aresi (MAG Museo Alto Garda)
Alessandro Paris (MAG Museo Alto Garda)

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