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Studio Franza. Printparty in Castello.

Dogliani Castello: the Langhe you don’t expect

A few weeks ago, to escape the city’s sultry heat, I said to Fabio: come with me, I’ll take you to a special place. So, convinced that the Langhe’s fresh air would be better for us than sitting around the house with a fan blowing air on our face, we left for Dogliani. There, waiting for us, was Yvonne. She, together with her cultural association, Serafina, is transforming Dogliani Castello, a village of ancient and disarming beauty, into a small happy island full of artistic activities, urban renewal projects, new ways of promoting local products and most importantly… full of people. People who, on a fine Sunday at the end of July, gathered around a 150-year-old printing machine expressly arrived from Vienna, ready to share their story with us while drinking good wine.

Meet me in Dogliani

A brightly lit garden, deckchairs and umbrellas here and there and a great expanse of rolling hills bathed in sunset light – even better than a seaside view. A banquet of local products and an endless line of uncorked bottles, an old printing machine, paint cans everywhere and smiling people who welcome you as if you’ve known each other forever. If this isn’t paradise, then what is?

Yvonne is more than a woman, she’s a force of nature: the first time I met her was in a workshop at the Print Club – we were soon covered in paint while trying to deal with the magical world of screen printing. One of her prints is currently hanging on my kitchen’s wall: the perfect recipe for making pizza, written in cubic characters and in bright colors, so that you will never be wrong.

Yvonne left Austria and arrived in Italy more then 20 years ago. She was following her passions, wanting to pass them on to others, and that’s why she, together with the local community, decided to actively invest all her energies in her beloved territory, the Langhe, and in particular in Dogliani Castello, where she settled down. She began to restore old houses and gardens, transforming them into oases of peace surrounded by nature and enhanced by simple, but refined details.

Do What You Love

Every year, one of these restored apartments within the ancient walls of the village of Castello is converted into a studio and it becomes an artist’s residence; here guests are invited to experiment and to be inspired by their surroundings. The aim is to create a label for the wine that is then produced in collaboration with the Alessandria and Veglio farms.
“Do What You Love” is the name of this wine – it’s also probably the unofficial motto uniting all the people who work on it: thanks to this project craftsmen, winemakers and designers work side by side to create a bottle that speaks not only of this territory, but also of the people that live in it and of of their passions.

Let’s print!

The 2019 wine label was entrusted to the adorable Barbel of Studio Franza: he tells me in his perfect Italian how his stay (and that of his family) at Casa Capra became a sort of tribute to the four-legged tenant that, until just a few years ago, lived in that rustic building: a goat. Today, thanks to Yvonne, that same old house has become an apartment with a new and elegant design.

The label of the wine that we are now blissfully sipping was created in collaboration with the studio of Ulla and Fabian, Schneeweis Wittmann: for the occasion this pair of Austrian creative designers have transported their 150-year-old manual printing machine from Vienna to Dogliani, making this ‘Print Party’ even more bizarre and exciting.

The label says, “Il bicchiere è mezzo pieno” (the glass is half full). At the sight of this minimalist design Fabio goes crazy and begins to shoot a series of photos of the bottle while I think, smiling so much that the cheeks hurt, that I couldn’t agree more with this statement.

The forgotten village

While I’m sipping a glass of Pinot Noir, it’s impossible not to talk to the locals, in particular to Alessandra, Councillor of Culture, and Antonio, called Bibi. He immediately tempts us with his Langa-Thai (a soup revisited in an oriental key, but made exclusively with products from the Langhe) and then he wins us over by introducing us to this old town’s beauty and by leading us to an extraordinary overlook, unknown to most and for this reason even more magical, from where we can admire the sunset.

Here he tells us about the history that permeates these places, the past of these old walls but also their future: what he and his association, Gruppo Volontari Castello C’è, are trying to do in the name of promoting the territory – cultural, musical, food and wine events that aim to attract a sustainable and passionate tourism.

When we arrived in Dogliani we didn’t know anyone, yet we leave feeling like we are part of the family: here it’s easy to feel at home. This could be thanks to the wine, of course, that always unites everyone, but also, and especially, thanks to people like Yvonne and Antonio – and then Alessandra, Tuomo, Ivan, Teresita, Bärbel, Ulla & Fabian, Marta, Dominik… Names of people filled with a great love for this land and that have left us a strong desire to return here and be together again.

Text Arianna Cristiano @pintandomoninches @ariannacristiano

Photos Fabio Rovere  @fabiofacose