From the cabins of the Fifties to the rooms powered by solar panels, and roof gardens. In conversation with Francesca Mozer, daughter of Eco del Mare’s founder
Eco del Mare, Lerici: the history
Eco del Mare was born by chance, in the Fifties. The founder, François Mozer, was Swiss and worked for a Swedish company, but he had the vision of living by the sea. Living in Carrara, he did not like the city life, so he negotiated for a house in Tellaro, a purchase that did not go as expected. On his way home he came across a cliff and fell in love with it: he decided that he was going to build his new home there.
He purchased the cliff, sparking interest from local newspapers, who referred to him as «the crazy Swiss guy who bought a cliff». ‘Crazy’ because there was no service of any kind on that cliff. François abseiled down with a rope and carved the first steps of what would become Eco del Mare. Although he had no plans about starting a business, friends who visited him gave him the idea, therefore in the Sixties Eco del Mare was officially opened to public.
During those years, visitors were mainly foreigners, and especially painters, writers, and artists. Customers arrived by word of mouth. Children of regular customers from the Sixties still come today as guests, Francesca Mozer, François’ daughter, affirms. In the Seventies and Eighties there was a boom in tourism, vacations were different from nowadays: ladies would stay at the beach for the entire summer season with their children and book cabins for a long time.
With the advent of the Nineties, people began to move, leading to some periods in which there was a strong drop in customers. At that point, Francesca had the idea of eliminating the cabins and building six rooms. She also moved the sunbeds away from the beach, to create an atmosphere where every guest could have their private space.
Furniture pieces as Eco del Mare, the practice of recycling
Only six rooms were built at Eco del Mare due to the limited space available and the complexity of building rooms on a cliff. These can be reached either on foot or by the elevator conceived by François in the Sixties. The rooms are all on a mezzanine floor, with the sea view. Each of them is furnished with a different style, as if in a real house. The only things they have in common are the bathroom and the bed. The names of the bedrooms have all been derived from the titles of Italian singer Zucchero’s songs.
Materials from the previous management have been rehabilitated: the old cabins were dismantled, and the wood was reused to furnish the rooms. Francesca is used to traveling during the winter season. When she finds design objects she likes, she ships them to Italy. A chandelier comes from Egypt and some vases from Burma.
Local and international artists include their creations at Eco del Mare or exhibit them there. Some of the stationary pieces are creations of Valentina Giorlando, an artist from Sarzana, who deals with recycling. Starting with discarded pieces, she creates furniture.
Francesca is also in contact with a local emerging artist who collects what the sea drags ashore and creates jewelry out of it. They have a joint project to raise awareness about not throwing anything into the sea anymore, as well as showing that often items that are thrown away can have a second chance. The two are also focusing on a project involving the creation of a Christmas tree in the square of Lerici with plastic collected from the sea.
Francesca’s passion for the art world stems from the personal enrichment that comes from interpersonal relationships. Eco del Mare customers also have the option of purchasing furniture pieces through the resort.
Eco del Mare: nature and eco-sustainability
Over time there has been an investment in integrating spaces to the surrounding nature, while respecting it. The blue flag is a source of pride for the facility. In order to maintain this goal, efforts go into separating waste and in the removal of plastic objects from the structure, with the awareness of not using it anymore or reusing it. Also, each umbrella has a micro cone where guests can throw cigarettes, instead of burying them in the sand.
In collaboration with architect Giorgio Palù, the roofs of the rooms have been transformed into gardens, with native plants, and walls covered in stones. From far away, Eco del Mare looks like a cave adorned with flowers.
The resort uses solar panels that bring in enough heat to avoid using gas. The next step they are working towards is the implementation of photovoltaics. Eco del Mare staff is committed to raising awareness among guests inviting them not to ask for a constant change of sheets, to try to buy biodegradable soaps and to avoid using products that may alter the surrounding natural ecosystem. They also put in plants that naturally keep mosquitoes away, so they don’t have to use invasive products.
The sea, while an optimal resource, is a constant threat. As erosion is reducing the beach, Francesca has taken action to protect the coast: she will place concrete reef walls specifically designed for the sea, which will not pollute but repopulate the marine fauna. In order to do this, an external supply of sand will be needed, but once the boulders are placed, the sand will stay put.
Eco del Mare: food at the restaurant
Ligurian culinary traditions are always present on the hotel restaurant’s menu, accompanied by some Tuscan dishes as well. Every day the fresh catch of the day is served, so the menu keeps changing. As far as vegetables, a cooperative that gathers local growers furnishes the structure. Their goal, as Francesca says: «is to take the ancient ‘poor’ recipes, enriching them with something modern and giving them a new light».
Eco del Mare also offers three self-produced wines: a light red wine that can also be served cold, a vermentino, and a rosé. The staff grows the grapes on their 1.5 acres of land and process them in Tuscany.
Lampoon review: Eco del Mare – positive, but not recommended
Some of the tables are placed along the terrace above the beach, cooled by the sea breeze. Some others appear as second-class tables, at least on a weekly July evening: under a canopy, the breeze leaves room for mugginess. The design and the setting have nothing to do with the Italian tradition, dismissing the Gulf of Poets, and lacking the perfume that is a mix of the Ligurian lemon trees you have and the pine trees in Versilia – somehow instead, showing references from the Hippy Seventies, pirate-like elements, reminiscent of the Balearic Islands.
Italy itself remains a detail, too often badly taken care of. Close to the kitchen exit, the noise of the dishes gets mixed to the Italian songs that loudly come out from the stereo, making the conversation uneasy. The waitress doesn’t uncork the bottle at the table, but she lays it already open in a plastic ice basket. Asking the maître for a suggestion for the catch of the day, he recommended a fish at a weight suitable for three people instead of two, with an out of proportion final bill. Eco del Mare
Località Fiascherino, 4, 19032 Maramozza, Tellaro SP
Eco del Mare is an intimate boutique property on the Golfo dei Poeti in Liguria