Ferruccio Ribezzo serves up excellence in Monforte d’Alba
"To do something good in life, you've got to do what you love, otherwise you'll do everything without a soul. This is both a secret and a recipe." So goes the philosophy of Ferruccio Ribezzo's work, a name in the Langhe that is synonymous with high quality gastronomic production and tourist accommodation. From the Antica Dispensa to the vinegar factory (acetaia) at Monforte Acerba, from Hotel Villa Beccaris to Palazzo Martinengo, Monforte d'Alba is not lacking in choices of luxury travel accommodation.
The entrepreneurial venture of Ribezzo began in Monforte in 1986 with the Antica Dispensa, an activity dedicated to gastronomic specialties of high quality, and a partnership between tradition and innovation. The spectrum of products in the two splendidly restructured farmhouses where the company is based is extensive: antipasti, pasta, sauces, sweets, and more, each one a knowledgeable choice of first-rate quality materials, guided by a passion for a land as rich and generous as the Langhe.
Palazzo Martinengo, as comfortable and accommodating as family homes of the Langhe, is a versatile space even though we had originally baptized it the Venue, thinking of it as mostly dedicated to fashion. I truly think that this territory is ready to host “Made in Italy” of the highest quality.
"After my oeno-technical studies, I began teaching Agrarian lessons in the Oenologic Institute of Alba. At the same time, I was working as consultant for some wine producers in the territory, as well as for the European Community, while maintaining scholastic courses for viticulturalists. It was November 6, 1992 when I decided to give myself a little gift: I went to the department head to file my resignation. I just felt the need to change - it was an instinctive move. And so, I was able to dedicate myself more and more to the production of gastronomic specialties, in the meantime developing more ideas."
In time, Antica Dispensa grew to involve the whole family. Nadia, Ferruccio's wife, busies herself with elegant gift collections and the gift shop. The youthful vitality of his son Alberto brought the vinegar factory Monforte Acerba into being, which produces aromatic vinegars that are both delicate and full-bodied. Its two pearls of wine vinegars are Barolo DOCG and Roero Arneis DOCG, which mature in small barrels of oak and larch.
As for the future? "As far as the pasta factory is concerned, last year we transformed a part of it to produce gluten-free products. Overall, as regards to future plans, it's clear that the market has changed. On the global level we're crossing an incredibly difficult period of crisis. My family and I have discussed the idea of maintaining our current size and therefore the same volume, and we're thinking of developing production that will be destined directly to tourists as the consumer. By avoiding intermediate steps, we believe we can present ourselves better by transferring the enthusiasm we feel for our products directly to our interlocutor." .
HOTEL VILLA BECCARIS
The new projects that Ribezzo is dedicated to, other than Antica Dispensa, are overall oriented to tourist accommodation. On September 16, 1997, in conjunction with the first edition of the Slow Food Cheese event in Bra, Ribezzo - together with cheesemonger Beppino Occelli and the families of Abbona, Ernesto, and Anna in joint ownership – Ribezzo inaugurated Hotel Villa Beccaris.
A charming and prestigious villa, for the late 90s it was an absolute novelty. "There was this structure right under my nose that was left empty for a few years. I always thought that I could easily make it acceptable for hospitality. Now there are numerous accommodations that are like Villa Beccaris, but back then it was a precursor to today. The number of beds in the territory didn't even reach 4,000 before; today, the number has more than tripled, with over 14,000 places for a tourist to rest his head. All of this came without a real, single moment of change. On the contrary, the preservation of our territory and the simple valorization of our traditional products have drawn in the tourism. A beautiful countryside, wine, truffles...the best of the Langhe is what I like to define as "the belly," or the entirety of sensations that brings the whole world and its tourists to visit our zone.
I had in mind a hotel of great hospitality and high quality, but I never imagined that our guests would include important figures in such diverse sectors. In Villa Beccaris, we've hosted the drummer of Rolling Stones, the president of Boeing, a South American billionaire, the president of McDonald's, important directors of Coca Cola that enjoyed walking through our park, politicians, important figures in the world of music, Hollywood actors, and tourists from all over the world have chosen Monforte for their stay in the Langhe. But not only that - they come here to explore the territory, but they also they visit Bra, Cherasco, Saluzzo, Turin, and even Milan.
The greatest part of our guests is European, particularly German, Swiss, Austrian, and Belgium, but we also often work with Italians. Our best business card is word of mouth. If our hills should be selected as a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage - an acknowledgement to the genius of the farmer, and to all the people who have sacrificed something for the valorization of this land - I'm convinced that it would benefit the entire touristic industry of our zone. We have an extraordinary occasion in front of us that could bring another type of tourism to the Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato zones: other than those motivated by "the belly," we could draw in those who are interested in the UNESCO heritage of these territories.
In any case, for every touristic typology, the charm of Villa Beccaris will remain the same, always maintaining its high level of hospitality. Our ambition is to be your home away from home.
We offer our guests a new atmosphere: in 2012, we decided to base the uniforms of our personnel on the elegance of the 1920s. And in the restaurant during a certain hour, we light the rooms just with candles, which are decidedly more romantic than lights, with music from vinyls on an old record player.
Going in chronological order, Ribezzo’s most recent idea brought a well-managed reconstruction to the grand Palazzo Martinengo. This palazzo is an ancient fortified building from the medieval ages in the heart of Monforte, now professionally restored to satisfy the requests of location and space so as to be adapted to host various types of events. Of its five floors, the first two are occupied by the "Rooms of Griffins," and a total of nine areas exist, including a cinema furnished for HD projection. Going down a storey, discover the old wine cellars, well-lit from their open position to the valley and home to a restaurant with an ultra-modern kitchen. Four years from the beginning of the work, on June 15, 2012 the structure opened its curtains to unveil the interior area transformed into beautiful rooms with the latest technologic improvements and stylishly, but subtly, integrated with the environment.
"The audio and video are domotic systems, just as the classy, vibrant lights with their colored spotlight that permits various tones of color for incredible nuance, helping to create exactly the right atmosphere according to the event. Congresses, meetings, workshops, photographic sets, and fashion shows are all hosted in Palazzo Martinengo, as comfortable and accommodating as family homes of the Langhe. It’s a versatile space even though we had originally baptized it the Venue, thinking of it as mostly dedicated to fashion. I truly think that this territory is ready to host “Made in Italy” of the highest quality, in fact. Being in a land particularly rich with high quality products, it also couldn't possibly miss out on the connection to the world of wine. In fact, we offer our guests the possibility to taste a glass of wine completely of their choice from 50 wines we always hold open, thanks to a dozen means of distributors automated by the Enomatic society, which is capable of maintaining a wine in its ideal conditions of serving, including the temperature and overall preservation. It all comes with a "wine card," which we give them for access to a touch screen that presents the characteristics of each wine. The card’s electronic chip has a database that even records the sensations and emotions from a tasting session. Other than this, our guests have the possibility to virtually enter the wineries and cellars of producers, letting themselves be guided by live voice via a video-tasting. For this I've got to thank the Barolo Boys, an extraordinary group of Barolo lovers that have believed in my project from the beginning. We're currently defining the details for a big event that the Palazzo Martinengo will host on May 10 and 11, 2013, with producers of Monforte presenting their wines here together with French and Tuscan producers, for a great meeting between Barolo, Champagne, and Brunello."