photos & words by Danielle Frederick
While Milan is filled with delectable cuisine, fine art, ancient architecture, and wonderful markets, the small towns in the countryside are is such an incredible experience, especially the tiny village of Montu Beccaria. This is where my family and I spent three weeks in a one-floor ranch atop cascading vineyards. The drive back up the hill after we set out to explore each afternoon felt like returning home to our corner of this romanticized and wonderful country.
The perfect local water hole, grab a lemon cello, cappuccino or glass of vino at The Roxy Bar. The language barrier is half the fun getting to know Marco and Simone behind the bar and being among the company of boisterous men ready to strike up a conversation. With smiles, hugs, pats on the back and a few English phrases the men become your uncles, grandfathers and tour guides of Italy. Stay long enough and you will be invited to the best lunch of your life. Family style with fold up tables extending down the hallways of elementary schools, we indulged in with homemade Italian dishes that beat any five star restaurant. Steam rising from the dishes carries aromas of oregano, basil, the sea, and homegrown tomatoes mingling together, like the many hands reaching for a plate and taste. My favorite, frutti de mare (pasta with fish) cooked in four foot tall pots and vegetables simmering in tomato sauce decorate the table, each bite punctuated with a deep belly laugh, you’ll leave fully satisfied.
The vineyard owners of Montu Beccaria are thrilled to share their honest sense of love for their community traditions holding true over the generations. Elderly couples still stroll through the streets after sunset. Shops close at noon for siestas as the men return from grape picking. A place where you’ll find no formal wine tours or websites, instead stroll through the vineyards at your own leisure. Walking for miles down the road, hills of grape vines stretch beyond the horizon. Locals are also excited to share the results of their hard work, so much so that they may offer boxes full of their bottled vino.
Visit the local markets, one room shops on the ground floor of homes, scattered throughout the towns and neighboring towns that blend together like the perfect Meritage. With no specific name and hours that fluctuate with the sun and siestas, the best way to spot these shops is by the cartons of fresh fruit that stand on the sidewalk. A few markets offer vegetables, meat, cheese, pasta, and fruit—the staples of an Italian diet.
Mountu Beccaria is an unknown surprise that welcomes you and gives you a home in Italy that you can always return to for a wholesome, purely happy and quiet escape.