Installation designed by Oak Barrel Baroque at La Raia, Gavi
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La Raia, Gavi. Vineyards, the Locanda, and the Foundation – a biodynamic ecosystem in 180 hectares

The original layout has been maintained, merging indoors with the landscape, to connect  the interiors with the vineyards. «we wanted to create a continuum from the rooms and the landscape» 

Locanda La Raia, Gavi

Surrounded by 180 hectares of land, Locanda La Raia, Gavi is described by Piero Rossi Cairo, the second generation in the company and responsible for the agricultural activities, as «a work in progress, a project that commits us as farmers, aware that our work and our daily choices have the power to transform, protect and modify the land and the landscape». Rossi Cairo knows they have to preserve these two assets for future generations, and this has to be done with a responsible approach to all the different ecosystems that compose La Raia. «Looking at La Raia from above» continues Rossi Cairo, «it is composed of a ‘mosaic’ of natural environments that promote biodiversity, one of the values of the biodynamic approach».

In the 180 hectares of La Raia, there are, 48 hectares of vineyards, 60 of arable land, while the rest are occupied by two lakes, hedges, meadows where Fassona cows graze, an orchard, gardens, and acacia and chestnut woods. «All our activities, from farming to Foundation and the Locanda, are immersed in this landscape; sustainability, besides biodynamic farming practices, is our focal point and ultimate goal».

Locanda La Raia, Gavi: hospitality and landscape.

Talking about the different ecosystems that compose La Raia, the Locanda, is the latest one realized within the estate; «The Locanda» states Rossi Cairo «was strongly desired by my father to offer in Gavi a hospitality that can meet the needs of an international tourism passionate about food and wine, and that wants to be surrounded by nature».

The connection with nature and landscape inspired the concept behind the Locanda all around. Maurizio Toccalino, Director of Locanda La Raia, explains: «The restoration of Locanda La Raia is signed by the studio DeAmicisArchitetti, which has enhanced the special features of this place and its relationship with the environment».

The original layout has been maintained, merging indoors with the landscape, to connect  the interiors with the vineyards. «We enlarged the mirror of some windows as we wanted as much natural light as possible to arrive inside and to create a continuum from the rooms and the landscape» states Toccalino.

Also, the decor of the Locanda has been studied and chosen by the owners, who wanted to combine antique Piedmontese furniture and contemporary design: the first impression of those who enter the Locanda is that of an Italian country house; «I created a service characterized by discretion and anticipation of desires,» explains Toccalino. «Locanda La Raia was once a post station for travelers who wanted to reach the sea from Piedmont. We wanted our guests to feel at home; the guests of our 12 rooms can choose to spend time together in the large garden near the swimming pool, or in the board game room on the second floor, or live exclusively in the company of nature because the Locanda is located within hectares of vineyards, fields, woods». 

When asked to describe interiors, Toccalino describes the blend between tradition and modernity, that Locanda’s signature: «the light on the large staircase at the entrance is provided by a 1950s Venini, the lamps are by Fontana Arte, and there are some Driade velvet sofas. On the walls, there are contemporary works from the Viasaterna gallery in Milan. The attention to detail is evident at first glance.»

La Raia restaurant: sustainability meets tradition at Locanda La Raia, Gavi

Locanda La Raia, Gavi also houses a restaurant, which offer is curated by chef Tommaso Arrigoni, who created a menu that holds together Piedmontese tradition with Ligurian influences, all made with local products from the estate’s garden, such as wines, honey, herbs from the garden, and the Fassona meat. Over the years, La Raia selected and consolidated a group of local producers – some of them are Slow Food presidia – to ensure, according to seasonality, excellent ingredients and products. «Our menu enhances seasonality,» explains Toccalino, «balancing the availability of ingredients with the expectations of our guests: offering dishes that can only be enjoyed locally, in these lands. Thus, among more creative dishes, we guarantee on the menu ravioli del plin, veal in pink point and tuna sauce, and the brand de cujon cod, which is always requested by our guests.»

Working with local ingredients and products is one of the core values in La Raia, where organic vineyards farming was introduced almost twenty years ago and that obtained organic certification back in 2007. For their care towards sustainable agriculture, La Raia also received Demeter Biodynamic Standard, which has been, quoting Rossi Cairo, «an incentive to do better and helped us to establish our brand in the markets of Northern Europe, England, and Japan, where the attention towards sustainable production spread earlier than in other countries, including ours.»

Locanda La Raia is located in the Gavi region, in Southern Piedmont, Photography P. Calamarà

The biodynamic approach of Locanda La Raia, Gavi

Embracing a biodynamic approach also changed how the environment responds to farming techniques, as Rossi Cairo explains. «We have noticed changes concerning plants because the biodynamic approach aims at the quality of the fruit through the health of the plants. Plants that have proven over time to be capable of responding autonomously to moments of drought, reducing, for example, the quantity of fruit and yet guaranteeing the quantity of sugar necessary for winemaking».

«Producing biodynamic wine encouraged us to safeguard the territory and the landscape», states Rossi Cairo. «Having an overall, organic vision, which aims to maintain the balance of the various components of a company – the presence and work of man, the cultivated and wild plants, the animals that live here – helped us maintaining a conservative approach, restoring the old farmhouses, investing in clean energy, in creating an art foundation dedicated to the great theme of landscape, to promote biodiversity».

La Raia Foundation: art and landscape

And indeed, the Foundation is another tassel of La Raia mosaic. Born to promote in Italy and abroad a critical reflection on the landscape, La Raia Foundation since 2013 encouraged a reflection on the landscape and nature, hosting the contributions of artists who enriched the territory of Gavi with their works; «they are invited to the estate, encouraged to explore it and to choose where to realize their work, choosing the materials, the techniques, everything in total freedom», states Rossi Cairo, when asked about the Foundation. Guests who visit the Foundation find the large steel ring – Infinito continuo presente – created by Remo Salvadori, the fresco in photosensitive pigment that captures the sun’s light by Koo Jeong A, the large bales in fluorescent plastic straws by Michael Beutler, and the photograph by Francesco Jodice.

Oak Barrel Baroque by Michael Beutler: the permanent installation at La Raia estate

Some artists even come back to La Raia, such as Michael Beutler, who after four years has returned to the estate with a new project: «The inspiration came from here, already knowing La Raia and its activity and mission» says Beutler. «The idea for my latest work started from using the wood of the barrels at the end of their life and to transform them into a living space. I wanted to build a structure similar to a church, merging different aspects of Italy I love and bringing in a context of ‘rural’ land». From this consideration, Beutler built Oak Barrel Baroque, which Ilaria Bonacossa, artistic director of Fondazione La Raia describes as a reaffirmation «of the attraction for simple materials, and for the decontextualization of forms, processes and materials themselves, to urge all of us to live the different contexts without solution of continuity, developing respect, attention, care. The structure evokes the history of rural architecture, creating a place that recalls both a small church and a small theater».

Again a fluid approach embraces all the different ecosystems of La Raia, which appears as a living creature, in which every activity is propaedeutic to others, in a continuous exchange.

Locanda La Raia

Located in the Gavi region, in Southern Piedmont, and is surrounded by the vineyards, pastures and woods of biodynamic farm La Raia, owned by the Rossi Cairo family. The green house used to be a mail station in the past and is currently a boutique hotel with twelve rooms and a restaurant. Among the Locanda, the project also feature a Foundation, to promote a critical reflection on art and landscape,

Località Lomellina, 26 15066 Gavi

Maria Bellotto

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
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Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
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