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Grandma Pina in the kitchen in the early 1980s

It was 1975: Bill Gates and Paul Allen set up the Microsoft Company in Albuquerque (New Mexico) to produce software. After 20 years finally, after having marked the lives and minds of millions of Americans and horrified the world, the Vietnam War, which officially began in 1955, ends. Gardaland, the first stable amusement park in Italy, was born in the province of Verona. "My friends" is released in the cinema. What is genius? It is imagination, intuition, decision and speed of execution» thus comments the off-screen voice, every time the merry Florentine brigade of "Amici mia" is preparing to implement a joke or a "gypsy", or rather «a departure aimlessly and without goals, an escape without plans that can last a day, two or a week».

In Cesena, 18 kilometers from the sea, in a 1920 house that father Third inherited from his adoptive uncles, there is a family like many others, a father who works as a refrigerator man in a company that preserves fruit for export , very flourishing in those years, the company owned by an ancient patrician family from Cesena also owns numerous "agricultural funds" in which Terzo also carries out the most varied activities such as maintenance man, blacksmith, plumber, inventor and creator of works suitable for the various company needs. The mother, Giuseppina, having available a house with a couple of empty rooms where the old uncles lived, has been using them as a boarding house for some years now, hosting young high school students who need to reside in Cesena due to the too much distance from their home or others from distant countries such as Great Britain or the United States of America who have come to learn the language or even young workers who need a room to reside in during the working week in the city. In short, a house always full of people, of young people, of life to which are added the two girls of the house: Paola, 18, and Graziella, 14.

Giuseppina comes from a small and remote village in the Savio Valley, Careste di Sarsina, now uninhabited, with a difficult childhood behind her, lived in the middle of the war and an adolescence studded with privations and sacrifices, the younger sisters to look after while the farmer parents spend their days finding the resources to put together lunch and dinner. Still very young, she was sent to a wealthy family in Cesena to "service" that is, to carry out household chores. While still a teenager, she met Terzo with whom a great love was born that is still alive today after more than 65 years of marriage.

Life in the city is more beautiful, full of people, of opportunities, in the midst of the economic boom, the first appliances, the first car enter the house with the proceeds of the fees of boarding boys and Third's salary and, secretly from Third, Pina also obtains her driving licence, the first sixteenth century arrives and freedom!

But Pina is not satisfied, she wants something more. Get to know the Riviera by spending the season in a hotel and then working as a waitress at the "Casa delle Aie" in Cervia, however returning late at night even if with full pockets isn't exactly healthy, the roads are dangerous, the falling asleep always lurking and then the family at home without her, in short, it's not the best. she manages to have some brief substitute work in the kitchens of the kindergartens of the municipality of Cesena but nothing stable.

Tourism on the Riviera, which started off again after the end of the Second World War, is experiencing a period of great growth, of great popular expansion. For Italian families, seaside holidays become a goal and a pleasant habit, while in Romagna dozens and dozens of labourers, farmers and ordinary people move from the countryside and from the hills to the coast and open businesses that promptly turn into excellent opportunities. The proverbial welcome and hospitality of the Romagnoli has the opportunity to show itself to the rest of Italy and Europe. Here the dream becomes reality: in Tagliata di Cervia there is a hotel that would suit the case, with the help of the family it could become the job that Pina has been dreaming of for a long time. The rent is high considering that Tagliata is a bit marginal compared to the more popular places such as Cervia or Milano Marittima or Cesenatico and also quite far from the sea, about 400 meters but the structure is quite new and functional for the activity. The sleepless nights, the plans, the hopes come true, we leave for the summer of 1975. Giuseppina the pillar of the house, she takes care of everything: the shopping, the management, the employees, the welcome, the phone calls, everything under the her supervision: with a mad cook in the kitchen, Paola at the reception and at the bar in the moments free from studies for her high school diploma, Graziella in the dining room as a waitress and Terzo, after work, to carry out, luckily still the few fiscal duties. The three-year contract flies by.

Summers start early, Giuseppina opens in spring even for just two people and a dog with so few customers can also take care of the kitchen herself. Even grandmother Paolina, Pina's mother, sometimes comes to lend a hand. In the meantime, new faces also begin to wander around the house in search of love: Valerio, a young engineer who years earlier had attended Pina's boarding house in Cesena retraces his steps and meets Paola for the second time, now a girl and soon time they get engaged. Marco, on the other hand, still goes to school, during the winter he meets Graziella, in the summer he works as a waiter in a hotel in Cesenatico and in the evening with her roaring motorbike he comes to the California hotel to spend a few hours with her. When the contract expires, it is possible to have an extension of another year, the summer of 1979 will be the last. In the first days of August Graziella manages to be absent for a weekend with great difficulty to go to Bari where in the meantime Marco will have to swear allegiance to his homeland. After the season, Pina and Terzo set out on the trail of a new opportunity, opportunities are not lacking, you have to choose. In Viale Milazzo they see this boarding house: the Ondina, a building born in haste in 1963 with materials and systems that are already old after only 17 years, the iron windows of the third floor are full of rust, the wooden ones of the rooms on the first and on the second floor they are no longer able to close, the walls are full of sand and poor in cement, the sewers have not been made and the old owners have left with the arrogance of resentment, leaving everything in unspeakable chaos. They had been the builders and the first owners but after a few seasons they had inexplicably had to sell and remain only as conductors before finally leaving. However, the place is beautiful, the sea is a stone's throw away, Viale Milazzo is quite central to the town, there is no shortage of services all around. Pina and Terzo roll up their sleeves once again and try to make the place suitable and hospitable. Easter 1980 arrives and it is already a success. New customers enter for the first time, others who are already regulars adapt quickly and with pleasure to the new management, many loyal customers leave the California hotel to follow Signora Pina to Cervia. In the meantime Paola and Valerio got married and Elena, the eldest daughter, was born at the end of the summer of 1979. Now working with a daughter to look after becomes a little more complicated but there is no problem, even if a terrible disease strikes the little girl of just 3 years and everything becomes more difficult. The whole family suffers from this, the treatments are still experimental, the relay with Sant'Orsola di Bologna every day from Romagna is exhausting, seeing such a small girl suffer is destabilizing but in the end the battle sees Elena as the winner and slowly everything returns in the norm. Here too, the 4-year contract passes in an instant and the owners, now elderly, see in this industrious family a sure opportunity to sell the property and begin to air the possibility of a sale. This opportunity is even more attractive, becoming an owner is a new dream, a chimera that cannot be escaped. The conditions are quite good even if the installments will last for several years. The only problem is the already planned wedding of Graziella and Marco. The big step of the purchase throws a spanner in the works of the two future spouses, they stop looking for a house and settle down for a few more years at home with their parents and the old owners, as a wedding present they pay for lunch in the best restaurant in Cesena: the Casali.

The big step is taken, every summer we work well, we pay the installments and in winter we make the changes and renovations that the business requires. Fantastic people follow one another under the roof of the Ondina, others a little less so but summers are hard work but with a smile and good humor you always go on. Even when the "mucilage" appears in the Adriatic on July 8, 1989. From Trieste to Pescara our sea is covered with a sticky mantle. President of the Council is Giulio Andreotti, regional councilor for tourism Giuseppe Chicchi former mayor of Rimini. It is like a tsunami, bathing is prohibited even if the microbiological analyzes do not show changes in the waters which, on the contrary, prove to be as good as the continuous bulletins of the region show. In July attendances are halved and it will take years to recover them. The old owners sensed the difficulties and agreed to postpone the 1989 installment.

In the meantime Elena had two new little brothers: Gabriele in 1982 and Claudio in 1986, father Valerio a job away from home and so Paola's whole family moved to Santa Maria Maddalena in the province of Ferrara and left his job at the Ondina . Terzo and Marco have their jobs in Cesena and when they finish their shift they are at the hotel to lend a hand to Pina and Graziella. Andrea Giulia was born in 1994, and Alice in 1997. For Marco and Graziella it becomes difficult to continue at the usual pace and they think about the opportunity to abandon but, instead of leaving, they double! On the side of the Ondina on the upstream side there is another hotel, the Milazzo, probably born at the turn of the fifties of the twentieth century as a boarding house with 5 rooms. In 1982 a well-known entrepreneur from Cervia bought it to give his daughter a job and profoundly restructured it, taking floors from one to four and the rooms to 26. The daughter ran it for 2 years but then gave up, different managers followed one another and then, decides to resell. Mrs. Pina, who has now become grandmother Pina, has the crazy idea again: "Can you think about it? We could tear down the fence and make it one big, one-size-fits-all hotel!” Grandpa Terzo makes no objections, Graziella is skeptical, Marco is enthusiastic, he cherishes the idea of giving up his job which keeps him away from his loves during the summer and he fantasizes about going back to doing what he loved as a kid when he was a student in the summer the seasons as a waiter. He carefully weighs the costs / benefits of a personal nature and gives the green light to the operation. The Ondina e Milazzo hotel is now a reality. The summer of 2000 passes amidst a thousand difficulties, Graziella with her stomach growing more and more due to Chiara's imminent arrival on September 14th goes back and forth between the two hotels, grandmother Pina now stable in the kitchen with some collaborators prepares at the Ondina meals also for the guests of the Milazzo, Marco has not yet abandoned his old job which he will do definitively in May 2001, in short, a bad time but everything will go for the best. Between baby-sitters and redundant waiters, summers pass and the two hotels are increasingly united. First breakfast at the Milazzo is abandoned and guests are diverted to the Ondina then slowly other services and finally in 2017 the Milazzo room is closed with the advent of the new veranda and in the winter of 2019/2020 the major renovation is planned . The difficulties never end: in February the covid19 pandemic broke out and the construction site was put to the test. It has been blocked since 21 March and to reopen it you must contact the prefect directly who will start the reopening of the construction site on 21 April 2020. Marco who commutes between his home in Cesena and the hotel in Cervia that day after a month's stop and self-imprisonment under house arrest in the 14 kilometers away does not meet even a car, everyone is still in lock-down and being in road after a month displaces him badly, he is as excited as the first day of school. On June 14th we can open, we are ready, few customers, the mandatory masks but the nightmare is diminishing. After about 4 weeks many people shake and decide to come to the beach. For 2 months it will be a succession of incessant arrivals, approvals and compliments. 2021 still opens in a pandemic and it will be possible to open the hotel only from the long weekend of 2 June. It will be a memorable summer even if short. Finally in 2022 we can open at Easter, as in the past, the masks will soon be thrown away and apart from a few small restrictions we can gradually return to normal. In the kitchen there is the chef Andrea who has brought a breath of youth and all new dishes, the grandmother Pina is still there every day to make the pastry and to take care of the traditional dishes, Matilde was born to Andrea Giulia and Scori her partner, Graziella and Marco have become grandparents but the passion and determination have not changed. The guests once again grasped the great change, showering us with praise and giving us the strength to continue in this adventure that life has given us.

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