Davide Longo’s project of hospitality and writing
Why us and why here
Are there more famous valleys? Yes. Other valleys with more efficient skiing facilities? Sure. More glamorous mountain towns? Absolutely, but the Valle Varaita conquered our hearts precisely because there is almost nothing glamorous about it and because it has remained intact, wild, and with the right mix between local economy and tourism. That is why we got the idea of building a house that could accommodate our passions, our wishes, the future and people from afar. A project, a holiday home, a place to stay, a place to return to.
When it all began…
October 1976, a brick red Fiat 128 patiently drives on the road up the valley. Behind the wheel a young man with a beard, next to him a woman that you might call a young girl if it weren’t for the four year old boy in the back.
The boy has blonde hair in a pudding-basin haircut. He looks at the autumn trees gliding past the car, the walls of the valley that sometimes near each other and then again go further apart, the river that carved them out. An Italian singer-songwriter sounds from the cassette player in his lap.
The car leaves the main road and turns right into a narrow little street. A few hairpin bends, the motor is puffing, and finally we reach a small church with a parking place. The boy quickly gets out of the car because as always he got a bit sick.
He breathes deeply while looking at the few dilapidated houses of the hamlet: stone roofs, stone walls, old heaps of firewood left to dry, undergrowth. No voices, no dogs, no children.
“Does anybody live here?” he asks.
His father is already taking a shovel, tool box, work clothes from the trunk.
“A few old’uns.”
“Two elderly ladies,” the mother corrects him, “but now we are here, and we can come here as often as we want.”
The boy scratches one foot with the other.
“Do we have to?”.
The parents smile at each other and walk along the little street that leads into the hamlet. The boy thinks about it and follows them. He cannot know that forty years, three kids, many books, many travels, many steps, many nice things and also some bad things later he himself will buy a ruin in that hamlet, right next to the baita where he spent large part of his holidays as a child, teenager, adult and then father. The other thing this boy doesn’t know is that he will buy that ruin to make it into a refuge for holiday makers that will be able to stay at Casa Cormac, Ferdinand, Agota; a base for hikers and cyclists; a residence for writers, readers and artists. A project called AlfaBaita. A new house, a few meters away from the family baita, like two words separated by a comma.