Before checking out Alba’s wine festival Vinum, we had to meet with an “unorthodox” owner of a construction company to get ideas, talk about our house, and business. Our architect wanted us to meet the owner, Marco, so we could see the amazing work he is doing and we were stupefied! Often now we hear about food and wine producers that have to make a choice between making money and sacrificing quality, or going back to traditional craftsmanship and being ethically conscious. Well, what I learned is that this is carried on to all kinds of sectors, even in construction. Marco had to make some serious lifestyle decisions. Should I keep working my ass off building for money or should I set myself apart and slow down, go back to civilization’s roots, and start living a better quality of life in every way? He chose the latter.
As we drove up this long winding dirt road, we finally reached “Mount Olympus”! I was struck by the villa’s beautiful natural colors and appreciated its subtlety. “Where is everyone?”, we thought. Oh down there. One of his 4 kids was clearing out a dirt path on a tractor, and up walks this scrawny, cheerful man in rubber boots. This was Marco the builder.
He gave us a tour which seemed like something out of Cribs, but listening to him talk passionately about all his choices was the most enchanting thing of all. Wheat was planted in the front yard instead of grass, his farmhouse is made of straw, he lets his hundreds of animals including rabbits, horses, and goats run free.
It was time to take a tour of the house together with his sparky fun wife. They decided to use all types of wood, even old wood from pear trees for the hardwood floor. The paint colors on the wall were made of natural soils from the area, green copper and even hay! Much of what furnished the house was made from old scraps. One of the coolest things is that he made the sinks from crushed earthenware like terracotta, just like they did in Ancient Rome. In this way, he is simply turning the most basic natural materials into stratospheric masterpieces without using chemicals and cement.
Touring around this huge house worked up our appetites, and kindly they asked us to stay for lunch. Of course this natural type of lifestyle was carried over into eating with the whole family and eating genuine products made by them. The simplest ingredients became a king’s feast, just like their natural materials became a luxurious villa. I looked at my watch. I should be wine tasting and networking right now in Alba but why would I ever want to leave this. After all, I had their organic, personal production of amazing Barbera to sip and enjoy exclusively. They only have 1 acre of vineyards! I stopped to enjoy the moment and although we were too late for Vinum, I felt lucky to have met people who inspired us to live the “dolcevita” and respect the environment in everything we do.
I can always find a wine festival to attend, but it is not every day that you are welcomed into such a beautiful home to drink genuine wine, eat homemade bread, salami and talk about philosophy. This was the truly unique experience I was looking for!