Occasionally, you stumble upon a real “gem” of a hotel. For years, the Cappelletti family owned and operated Villa Belvedere in the village of Argegno (population 650) along the water’s edge of Lake Como. I discovered this inn via Karen Brown’s Guides as I was researching for a trip in 2004. Over the years, we returned to the Cappelletti’s small hotel on four occasions with friends and family in tow. The magic of Villa Belvedere was that you felt like you were returning home, to a place that was filled with ease and genuine hospitality.
Sadly, after our first trip, Mr. Cappelletti passed away and when we returned for our second visit his wife, Jane, and Michela (his daughter) were capably running the villa. It was during one of these stays that we commented to our favorite waiter, Allegio, that we would like to do a wine tasting. Rather than putting us in a car for a 2-hour drive to the Piedmont wine region he arranged for us to catch a bus in the village for the drive up the mountain on a narrow, curvy road for a tasting appointment at Cantina Londi. We arrived ready to taste and ready to buy wine to ship home.
We disembarked from the bus at the correct stop and made the brief walk to Cantina Londi at our appointed time. The door to the cantina was locked and the store was dark. We made our way around to the back to the loading dock and in broken English/Italian were able to finally explain that we had an appointment. The gentleman in the warehouse was apologetic for the oversight and ushered us to their tasting room. We figured out that the person who typically hosts the tastings was not there. Instead, our tasting host was a charming man who spoke little English but generously shared tastings of many wines. In addition, he served us salami and cheese that were made in the local village.
But the moment became unforgettable as he talked about the original model of the Vespa that sat in the corner of the tasting room, used during WWII, and then proceeded to show us his double barrel shotgun. After pulling out the gun we began placing our orders for wine to be shipped home only to find out that, at the time, Cantina Londi, did not have the ability to ship to our home state of Texas. Extremely disappointed, we purchased a few bottles to pack into our luggage before heading to the bus stop where we were unable to make heads or tails of the schedule. Eventually, a bus came along and we hopped on board since it was heading down the hill (in the right direction) and when it made the stop in Argegno, 50’ from Villa Belvedere, we hopped off!
Our time in the tasting room remains one of our unforgettable memories due to our hosts hospitality, the vespa, a shotgun, and the fact that nothing went according to plan and yet the entire experience was better than planned.
Mary Beth I have a passion for creating and experiencing unforgettable moments and sharing those with others. I hope that this story has helped you experience one of those moments.