We left Courmayeur and headed slightly off the route of the official Tour de Mont Blanc, moving roughly 30 miles east to Aosta, Italy. My dad wanted to show us something special and had booked us three small rooms at a locally-run bed and breakfast in the mountain-side village of Pollein, about a ten-minute drive outside of Aosta. He had been to Aosta several times before and had always loved the beautiful town. However, on a whim, he decided to try a tiny, family-run hotel called Lo Teisson because the place looked charming and the price for three rooms was what we’d get for one tiny room in trendy, touristy Aosta.
We left after our excursion to the top of Monte Bianco on another gorgeous sunny day in the Alps, passing through tunnel after tunnel beneath the rocky alpine landscape until coming out at last in the Aosta Valley. As we navigated our way via google maps to Pollein, I started to feel a bit hesitant and unsure of exactly where we were going. Instead of driving into another beautiful Italian city with sidewalks, outdoor cafes, luxurious shops, and restaurants, we were heading into rural farmland. I had no idea what to expect.
After a couple twists and turns in the road, we wound up on Località Dregier, the one small road leading through the heart of Pollein and arrived to the warm, gracious smile of Viviana Filippini who runs the hotel with her family. Vivana told me her grandfather had once had a farm on this land and it was always a dream of her mother Nives to someday convert the property into a bed and breakfast.
In the 1940s, Nives father purchased the farm and raised cows in the stable that today has been converted into the hotel. The beautiful breakfast room was where the livestock lived and the family lived in the other half of the house facing the street. As a little girl, Nives remembers her mother baking all the time and neighbors passing by on the main street, stopping to chat and share a cup of coffee and her mother’s sweets. That memory is what sparked her dream of building a family-run bed and breakfast, serving freshly-baked goods just like her mother and giving visitors a taste of what life is like in a tiny Italian village.
It took years of labor and love to turn the old stable and farmhouse into Lo Teisson which means “the badger” after the furry friend that resided on the farm and befriended Vivianna’s grandfather. Nives, Vivana and Vivianna’s husband, all worked on the restoration and Lo Teisson was finally opened in 2008. Today, this six-bedroom bed and breakfast offers guests a unique way to stay with a local Italian family in a small, mountainside village where tourists rarely venture.
After a brief tour of the hotel, we each received our room. Mine had a lovely balcony where I could sit and take in the quiet solitude of a small town. What was really nice is that Pollein has a decent amount of local restaurants and eateries where we could try some of the famous regional cuisine and local gastronomy. Once again, we were the only tourists which made the experience all the better and more special.
What I enjoyed the most about our stay was the morning breakfast and conversation with Vivianna’s mother Nives. At first, I thought we would never be able to communicate since I do not know Italian and she doesn’t know English. However, after a few moments, we both realized that we did share a language: French.
Viviana’s daily spread of breakfast and sweets was amazing as was the converted stable into a breakfast room:
I learned French back in college and years ago studied abroad in Paris. Nives was raised bi-lingual in French and Italian. With its proximity to France, the Aosta region of Italy used to speak French however the official language became Italian when the nationalists were trying to Italianize the area. The government offered incentives for Italians from the south of Italy to move to the communities surrounding Aosta. This is how Nives father ended up in Pollein.
Today not much has changed in Pollein except for more car traffic of the locals skirting through the village on their way to work in neighboring Aosta.
There are plenty of nice local restaurants within walking distance of Lo Teisson. We enjoyed our evening of local gastronomy at Agriturismo La Reina which has won tons of awards on their high-quality beef and local cheeses.
We also enjoyed the Trattoria Genzianella. Located only 200 m to the left of the hotel, this popular trattoria has a line starting ten-fifteen minutes before it opens at 7:30. Within an hour, the entire restaurant was packed with locals and there was not a single tourist in sight (except us of course). We enjoyed pizza, prawns and sea bass followed by a homemade dessert.
While we only spent two full nights at Lo Teisson, we loved our stay there and the experience of living like a local. Meeting Vivianna and her mother added to the magic of this place. As we left, I noticed these old yellowing newspaper clippings framed and on the wall. It showed Vivanna’s grandfather and what Pollein had looked like over 70 years ago. Not much has changed which is pretty special.
If you go: