Craters and beautiful creations!

Retired Italian diplomat and art aficionado, Pietro Averono, may have saved Mukasa and Mulondo for his home, but his brainchild, Lodge Bella Vista, near Fort Portal, is nothing short of poetry on an artist’s canvas, writes Nishitha Shrivastava
Tenderly cradled by the Western Rift Valley, with the Rwenzori Mountains affectionately gazing down, is Lake Nyamiteza, one of the 25 fascinating crater lakes of Fort Portal, in Uganda. While reams have been written about the crater lakes of Uganda, you now have a chance to create your own tale, at the Bella Vista Lodge, perched above Lake Nyamiteza.
When an art connoisseur decides to marry tourism and nature, he does not merely build, he creates. And that is exactly what Italian (and now Ugandan) denizen, Pietro Averono did at his Bella Vista Lodge, situated about two kilometers from Kasunga Nyanja village on the road between Fort Portal and Kasese.
If the mere view of the lodge, against the backdrop of serene Lake Nyamiteza and majestic Rwenzori
Mountains, is not artistic enough, you are met with beautiful life-size murals by Ugandan artist Adrian Migadde at the entrance of each room.
Turin, home to Pietro and FIAT automobiles, is where his story begins.
“In 1980, after Amin Dada, I was sent by FIAT to Uganda as a workshop manager. In a year, I joined an Italian building company, Larco, for whom I built the current airport cargo building in Entebbe. I then joined the Italian embassy, where I worked for the next thirty years, in various roles, from logistician to cultural officer to secretary to the Ambassador. I have served nine Italian ambassadors in Uganda,” states Pietro.
As an avid mountaineer, Pietro has scaled Mount Rwenzori several times.
The most recent being October 24th this year, where he reached a height of 4200 metres (the highest peak is about 5100 metres). It was during one such expedition, in 2012, that Pietro set out in search of the famed crater lakes along the Kasenda Belt and chanced upon this beautiful plot.
“I loved the area, so pristine and virgin. I was also nearing retirement, in two years, so I decided to spend my retirement in promoting tourism of Uganda, of which I became a citizen of this year. I bought the land in 2013 and started building my Lodge Bella Vista,” says the 66-year-old.
Pietro did not look too far for building material and décor and takes pride that the Lodge has Uganda at its core, literally and figuratively.
“I used local materials. The wood used is either Mvule or Mahogany. The murals are by a local artist. Even the tables and chairs are made by local handicraft artisans. I wanted Uganda’s expression of art to emerge,” he says.
The lodge has four standard rooms, three loft rooms and three King’s rooms.
Those opting for the King’s rooms can take a step back in time, as far as the mediaeval, turrets and all! The rooms all have stunning views on the one side of the crater lake, and the other the Rwenzori mountains.
Explaining his stance on art, Pietro says, “Art is not predefined. It is what impresses people. If it appeals to many, it has artistic content. The person can then call himself an artist. But if what is created is ordinary, then the creator is merely a worker. A sculptor or painter becomes an artist when the emotion, that he/she has created, has a widespread effect. I have used art that touched me, and that I wanted to share with those visiting the lodge.”
The lodge also has a backpackers’ room with ten bunk beds and a camping site.
The room tariffs could range anywhere between USD 65 for a standard room (single) during off-season to USD 150 for a loft room (double) during peak season. Check their Facebook page for special offers.
For those living in the lodge, there is a canoe that can be used to explore the beautiful crater lake, Lake Nyamiteza, or borrow bicycles to simply meander or soak in the beauty by the swimming pool.
“There is plenty to do just in and around the Lodge. Be it strolling down to the Crater Lake, or hiking up Kyatwa Hill or just relaxing your muscles at the Rwagimba hot springs,” shares Pietro.
For the loungers, there is a room specially dedicated to this (in)activity, and it comes with a view, for sure. In fact, a 360- degree view – of the landscape.
Foodies who moaned the closure of Italian restaurant Mama Mia in Kampala have added reasons to head to this Lodge.
When Pietro closed his restaurant, Mama Mia, he relocated two of his chefs to his Lodge, and they serve up a delectable Italian and Continental spread, including wood-fired pizza.
“With its close proximity to Rwenzori National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kibale Forest, this Lodge is ideal for travellers looking for an alternative to living at the parks,” shares Pietro.
To find this oasis in the jungle, you have to drive to Fort Portal, then 40 kms to Kasunga Nyanja on the Kasese road and another 2 km till you reach Lodge Bella Vista.
You can visit their website or contact them through their Facebook Page.