To welcome visitors arriving at the Locanda La Raia there are some hay bales painted in bright colors, standing there on the hill watching the road. They are not the result of some goliardic joke, but rather the homage to the territory of the German artist Michael Beutlerone of the many who work with the Foundation linked to the structure.
We are in the heart of Gavi, in the province of Alessandria: land of white wines – Cortese above all – of people who work in the fields, of boundary stories between the mountain, a little further up, and the sea, a few kilometers away. Here the Piedmont hills, which have always been dedicated to viticulture, are less dense with rows than in the more famous Langhe, and leave room for woods and vegetation, in a somewhat less ordered and wilder terrain.
La Raia perfectly reflects the soul of this territory: a family-run biodynamic farm, a boutique hotel with a graceful luxury, but also a promoter of experiences, discovery of the territory and paths in contemporary art.
The boutique hotel
Twelve rooms, all different from each other, make up the La Raia boutique hotel: a welcoming place, where everything smells of pampering. Vintage Piedmontese furniture contributes to the country house atmosphere, which makes you feel like children just enough to smile looking at the greenery out there, and thinking about the beauty of rolling around inside. Elegance is accompanied by large spaces, with windows facing the outside, on the side of the heated outdoor pool or on the side of the entrance, where the road leading to the Inn is surrounded by lavender plants and aromatic herbs. Going down the stairs curiously studded with mirrors from various eras you then enter the small but cozy Spa, with hammam sauna and access to the outdoor swimming pool. Once the treatments are over, you go back to your room, but not before stopping in the warm tea room, where the infusions are accompanied with homemade biscuits and, if desired, a game of chess.
The artistic path to the cellar
Upon awakening, you can walk. The route suggested by the Locanda is the one that leads to the La Raia winery, where the fruits of the 45 hectares of calcareous soil are harvested – and can be tasted – and become more interesting harvest after harvest. A twenty-minute walk is enough to reach it, in the middle of fields, rows and art. These are the fruit of the patronage of the La Raia Foundation, which commissions works that fit into the territory. In addition to colored hay bales, there are, for example, the Oak Barrel Baroque by Michael Beutler, a work inspired by Palladian architecture and is built with wooden beams and staves from the end-of-life barrels, or the Palazzo delle Api by Adrien Missika, which dominates the lake of the estate, building deep meanings, linked to hospitality, with its housing capsules that host migratory insects. Here and there the Piedmontese breed cows of the farm appear, running free in the meadows. A bucolic path, in the middle of nature, ideal for cycling. On the other hand, we are in the lands of Fausto Coppi and Costante Girardengo, who are remembered here – together with other great champions of Alessandria – in the not far Bicycle Museum of Alexandria (AcdB Museum) and in various events that take place in the area: The Mythical Ciclostorica of Castellana Coppifor example (June 26), where cyclists parade on bicycles and vintage uniforms or, remaining more contemporary, The Monsterrato of Quattordio (2-3 and 4 September 2022), the first UCI Gravel event in Italy in the UCI Gravel World Series, the Gravel World Championship.
After the bike ride, it’s time for some refreshment. Thinking about it is Tommaso Arrigoni, young chef of Locanda La Raia, starred with his Innocenti Evasioni in Milan. Here in the Gavi he works the products of the biodynamic farm La Raia: ancient cereals such as einkorn spelled, fruit and vegetables from the organic garden and meats that come from Fassona breed cows, raised in pasture. The tasting menu “Between Gavi and Langhe”, accompanied by wines from local vineyards, is offered at a price of 100 euros and includes six typically Piedmontese dishes, revisited by the chef’s creativity: ranging from the Russian spring vegetable salad, accompanied by a Castelmagno mayonnaise and a hazelnut waffle, to the inevitable ravioli del plin with meat sauce.
Source: Vanity Fair