Felicin’s story unfolds through the daily gestures of people who become passionate custodians of an ancient philosophy, where the relationship between humans and the territory animates a natural project that generates a mutual safeguarding of both worlds’ talents.
Felicin was born in 1901 in the Borgata dello Sciarè in Monforte d’Alba. The youngest son of a large family of sharecrop farmers, he cultivated his own passion for cooking in addition to other people’s land. After the dire poverty that followed the First World War and the Spanish flu epidemic, he was forced to leave as a soldier for the colonial war in Libya in the spring of 1921. Felicin definitely didn’t like the war, barely survived malaria and managed to get assigned to the kitchens of an elegant brothel for officers in Tripoli.
Back home he falls in love and marries Claudina Massolino, known as Dina, with whom he takes over a restaurant for travelers in Alba in 1923.
The art of making customers happy comes naturally to Felicin: he combined his extraordinary ability in the kitchen with his personality, creating a warm, cheerful and genuine atmosphere. The newlyweds enjoy some success from the get-go, and thanks to Dina’s entrepreneurial skills they move to Monforte d’Alba in 1927 where they manage the restaurant on the square. Here a family of three children grew up: Maria, Italo and Giorgio. Not without difficulty they successfully keep the restaurant despite fascism, the Second World War and the Civil War which was particularly ruthless in the Langhe.
After the war, in order to carry on, Felicin began working as a traveling cook, a one-man catering service, getting very well known in this endeavor and finally being able to buy the current historic home in 1948.
In 1956, he began to leave the helm of the restaurant to both his sons to enjoy his older years taking care of his beloved countryside and wandering around the French Riviera with friends to try the best restaurants of the time.
Giorgio was born in 1936 and experienced the hardships of childhood during WW2: but growing up in the restaurant he had the opportunity of learning the subtleties of the trade and above all that special touch that helped Felicin in having happy customers.
After the war he studied to become an accountant; being naturally gifted for languages, he learned English and French perfectly. He made numerous trips to America and Germany, and that was the key to introduce Langhe cuisine to the Germans.
Returning home, he takes over the management of the family restaurant together with his older brother Italo. Italo gives a great contribution to turn the popular restaurant into a more elegant place and this talent will lead him to become a very successful luxury hotel manager later on.
Giorgio gives the cuisine a refined touch and consequently the clientele slowly changes too: these are the years in which food and wine tourism begins to appear in the Langhe. This phenomenon will steadily grow over the years thanks to those few personalities with charisma and international experience like Giorgio, that created the basis for today’s success.
In those years, a simple but elegant girl named Rosina began working as a waitress in the restaurant. Only after a couple of years did Giorgio find the courage to invite her to dance and the couple who supported the restaurant until the nineties was born. They achieve international fame together, with new work done on the premises, and above all thanks to the trips that they organize every year to export the quality and genuine taste of the Langhe.
Rosina proves to be essential in managing the place with class and elegance, acting as a counterweight to Giorgio’s slightly unruly genius. Together they will have a son Nino who will continue in their footsteps
At the end of the 80s, the young Nino is about to graduate in Business and Economics when he meets Silvia, who combines her studies with the work of a teacher in elementary schools. Destiny makes her start teaching in Monforte, and that’s when love strikes. After completing their studies, Silvia and Nino get married. Nino understands how important it is for him to carry on the family business and also involves Silvia in her indispensable passion; they become custodians of the tradition of knowing how to make customers happy…
Nino, like his father, deals with the kitchen and wines, he too speaks and writes several languages perfectly. Equipped with a lively and eclectic soul, he transmits his love for Langhe and the culture of the area to the ever-increasing number of visitors.
Silvia, with taste and elegance, takes care of the restaurant, the reception, the hotel in its various facets. Naturally suited for interior design, she sets up the new spaces of the growing company. She revisits the existing style without distorting it, following the path of taste and elegance undertaken by Dina and Rosina. Over the years Silvia and Nino will never cease to renovate and improve the existing by additions and subtractions. All of this while the social and geographical context is in turmoil: an unwavering awareness of the zeitgeist is necessary to generate a strong match in tourist supply/demand.
Also thanks to the great entrepreneurial ability of Nino, the “Holiday Apartments” in the Saracca and Palazzo Boeri Panoramic Suites have been added, a challenging historical recovery of a prestigious period building. Together with the “restaurant with rooms” building and “Villa Stella” it becomes the 4-star “Albergo Diffuso” that it is now.
Meanwhile the family grows: Giulio, Leonardo, Filippo and Alessandra are born, and are growing up in this magical corner of the world. A small town in the middle of Langhe – against the backdrop of the ever-changing geometries of vineyards, the increasing number of winemakers, new hotels and restaurants – that thrives and welcomes people from every corner of the world.