Stefan, what prompted you to come to Ascona with your family and set up the SEVEN GROUP?
Before the turn of the century, the Breuer family was running its successful family business in the steel industry in Germany. When we sold the company, a new phase in life opened up for me, my wife and our five children. But where should we spend it? In the US, in Germany – or maybe Ascona, this pearl on Lake Maggiore, where I had memories of wonderful holidays when I was young. In the end it was the location in the heart of Europe, our family roots and the idyllic setting that made the choice for us: Ascona. Our former holiday home became our primary residence and our five children attended school in Ascona. From the start I enjoyed our new situation, and I quickly felt at home, but I still had no clear idea of what to do. I often saw reflected images from Ascona’s past, from the time when artists, celebrities and the international jet set arrived in Ascona, the Swiss Saint Tropez, to attend glamorous parties. But there was nothing to remind one of those glorious days. The sparkle had gone, the Ascona brand had lost some of its sheen. And it was this that awakened the entrepreneur and visionary in me. The former “place to be”, the Pizzeria Trattoria Lago on the via Moscia, with its piano bar, was standing empty and in need of refurbishment. I was able to acquire the property and turn it into a bijou venue. The modern gastronomic experience, headed by an internationally renowned and starred chef, opened on the 7th day of the 7th month of 2007, and we called it “Seven”. It was a brilliant idea and it gave a sudden positive impetus to Ascona. Yes indeed, and after that every year something else new arrived on the scene. A new lifestyle was born.
What do you find fascinating about Ascona?
I travel abroad very often, but I am always very happy to come home to Ascona, because I am drawn to the beauty of Ticino and this wonderful natural scenery. I love the Mediterranean flair, the “Bella Vita” and, last but not least, the very safe environment in Switzerland.
What sort of projects would you like to see in Ascona?
It’s important for all entrepreneurs, politicians and tourism experts who hold Ascona close to their hearts, to be all on the same page, developing and implementing ideas together. Ascona needs to open up even more, and business initiatives shouldn’t be held back by such strict regulations. But Ascona must also market itself better; a lot of action is required here. A great project would be a harbour facility on the Piazza, in front of the degli Angioli parking lot (Lungolago). A small, appealing yacht harbour with a café, bar, boutiques and a lounge for chilling. It would create a positive development for Ascona, bringing back its international prestige. A project of this nature would give the Piazza a worthy and sustained framework.
How do you spend your leisure time in Ascona?
I love nature, enjoy running and swimming and I often ride my Harley or drive my classic Porsche Cabriolet through the picturesque scenery. I love Lake Maggiore and enjoy spending time with friends and customers. A wonderful “pranzo” (lunch) or “cena” (dinner) in amusing company and with a good glass of wine simply makes life worth living.
What is your favourite dish and what wine would you choose to go with it?
I love a crisp roast “Galletto” (cockerel) or “Branzino” (sea bass) Mediterranean style. And a nice Ticino Merlot or a light summery rosé to go with it.
A Ticino grotto or fine dining?
Either, depending on the occasion. There are so many great grottos offering an authentic alternative to the classic-modern style of cooking.
What will Ascona look like in ten years’ time?
It has considerable potential for development, but it needs new blood, new investors, who are ready to invest and make changes. And, of course, I’d like to see the new yacht harbour at the Piazza. That’s my Ascona!