The saying “the first taste is with the eyes” is a British one, but in Italy – a country known for fine food and exquisite design – its meaning is instinctively understood. It’s particularly true when bottling pure mineral water, harvested from a natural spring in the stunning Dolomite mountains. “Packaging is important to us,” says Nick Pitscheider, Brand Manager and Designer at Cedea. “When our bottle is placed on a customer’s table, even before they take their first sip, they know it’s something special.” Launched in the summer of 2018, this new company already supplies its water to high-end restaurants, five-star hotels, and luxury brands such as Lamborghini.

Founded by local entrepreneur Lizio Rizzi, Cedea draws inspiration from the mythologies of the Ladin people, who have lived in this part of northeastern Italy for centuries. “The Dolomites is a very beautiful place with a breathtaking landscape,” says Nick. “Just before the sun goes down and just after the sun rises, a very intense pink-red colour vibrates through the Dolomites. It lights everything up – but it’s very fleeting. According to the myth of Enrosadira, they say that when the daughter of the king was kidnapped, the king was so angry he took all the roses and made them only visible for a fleeting moment at sunset and sunrise. It’s very romantic!” Reflecting this story, the Cedea bottle – which recently won a coveted Red Dot design award – features a coloured glass rose at its base that subtly tints the water as light passes through it.

The company’s name – pronounced Chid-ay-ah – also derives from Ladin legend. “When the local people looked for places to settle in the mountains, they would seek out sources of water – and when they discovered one, they would thank Cedea, the goddess of life.” Again, this story has fed into the brand’s design. “It’s a sleek, elegant, feminine bottle with a vertical torsion,” says Nick. “The bottle is never symmetrical. If you rotate it in your hands, it’s sensual, almost alive. We wanted it to be human and natural.”

As for the water itself, it is alkaline, with a pH of 8.1. “Most bottled waters are acidic,” says Nick, “with a pH of around 5 to 7. Western diets tend to be acidic; our alkaline water has a balancing effect.” Cedea’s low mineral content, meanwhile, gives the water a slightly sweet flavour. And there’s the environmental aspect. “About 90 per cent of waters in the market come from the ground, which means companies have to drill to get them out,” explains Nick. “In our case, there is a crack in the rock and water gushes out. We don’t need to drill, we just thank Mother Nature.”

There’s no pumping or pressure, minimal piping, and just a small house in the mountains in lieu of a big factory. “We work hard to make sure our business doesn’t have a negative impact,” says Nick. “We’re not stealing all the water from the spring – we only take around 15 per cent because we know it’s precious.”

Cedea is a young company with an appreciation of modern tastes and an awareness of environmental concerns. “We’re respectful of where our water comes from and the legends that surround it,” says Nick. The first taste of Cedea may be with the eyes, but beyond its stunning packaging, the water offers a unique flavour and a compelling story. “It’s precious; to be enjoyed in the moment,” says Nick. “Just like the legends around it, it’s about love, beauty and life.”