The history of our hotel is inseparable from the life and work of legendary Miss Emma. Not only is our hotel named after her, but she also went down in history as a tourism pioneer in the Alpine region. Emmerentia Hellenstainer
, nee Hausbacher from St. Johann in Tyrol known as Miss Emma (1817-1904), managed to make the guesthouse "Schwarzer Adler" known far beyond the borders. As a charismatic host and excellent chef she enchanted guests from all over the world. Germans, English, and Italians – they all came to Villabassa because of the beautiful landscape, but mainly due to Miss Emma and her charming style.
In 1899 she was awarded the Golden Cross of Merit by Emperor Franz Joseph. Her family home
Emmerentia was born in Sankt Johann im Unterinntale (Tyrol) in 1817. She was the daughter of a merchant and marching commander and an innkeeper. Emmas' childhood and education
|It was a tradition in the Hausbacher family, that daughters had to leave childhood behind and start to work in tourism. Small Emma became a waitress. She loved her job and offered lots of dedication to her guests. To finish her education Emma was sent to the Ursuline Sisters in Innsbruck. This is where she learnt Italian, knitting, sewing and crocheting. The time after was some of the most "important": she learned the art of cooking at the "Three Allies" in Salzburg. Finally her education was finished and from now on Emma became famous far beyond the borders for her excellent cooking skills.|
Emma takes over the brewery in Dobbiaco
The brothers of the old postman, the singles Thomas and Seppl, were the owners of an inn at the main square in Villabassa, which was once the hunting lodge of the Earls of Görz, later "Troyersche" inn. Now, the inn was called "Zum Schwarzadler". Before his death, Thomas, godfather of Josef, passed on his entire possessions inclusive of fields and forest to his nephew Josef after asking his brother for permission. Meanwhile, the brewery at Rienza River in Dobbiaco had to be given to the widow Hausbacher due to irrecoverable debts. At that time Emma was only 20 years old and now faced the difficult task of operating a manor with farm hands, maids and a high number of animals, as well as a brewery with lots of customers.
Emma marries Josef Hellenstainer
The beautiful lady from Unterinntal soon turned every man's head in Dobbiaco and Villabassa. But her mother had always told her: "Never smile!" Emma followed her mothers' advice and faced young and old admirers with the cold courtesy of an innkeeper. She only smiled to one man, to the second son of the postman of Villabassa, namely Josef Hellenstainer. And from the day that Josef brought her beautiful earrings from Heiden (Ampezzo) and she accepted them with delight, Emma was the women of Josef's heart. He came from a highly appreciated family, was a handsome and friendly man, a busy farmer and the he knew more about horses than anybody else. Rivals
The "Hellenstains" and the "Postmen" were the two leading families in Villabassa, even though they both had the same name. Josefs' older brother married a woman from San Candido from the renowned "Tagger" guesthouse, a rich daughter of the Kopfsguter family. Without Franz noticing, the resolute woman soon held the reins in her hands. Furthermore, she was very skilled in managing the large household without problems and raising eight children on top of that. There was always a competition between the two women, who was better at spinning silk, who had more guests in summer or who had more weddings in their inn. Guests from far away
Once, an English family arrived with the carriage from Bressanone. Before even getting off the carriage, the head of the family asked: "Do you also have Sauerkraut?" Rather astonished, host Emma answered this strange question with yes. "Good", Mr. Colquhoun said, "in this case we will stay." Mr. Colquhoun was a strange but kind man. The English family departed on October 3rd and promised to come back soon and to spread the word amongst their friends. From then onwards Emma was also known across the ocean. A little rest, finally
Miss Emma spent her last years of life in Merano. In winter she stayed in the Grandhotel Emma in Merano, and the summers were spent in Villabassa. However, her preferred place to stay was the Grandhotel Pragser Wildsee in Braies. Here she was able to rest: she was at the lake, a dark-green lake with high rocks in the backdrop. The images of her life and her past came to life in her spirit and the waves sang an eternal song. Miss Emma Hellenstainer, nee Hausbacher, the most famous innkeeper in Tyrol was awarded the Golden Cross of Merit for her lifework by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1886. She died in Merano on the 9th of March 1904. She was buried in the cemetery in Villabassa.