Eating, Drinking and Sleeping in the Castles

Villa Era a Vigliano Biellese - Cantina

History
Villa Era was designed and built between 1884 and 1888 by the Turin-based architect Enrico Petitti for the Magnani family, real estate impresarios from the Cervo Valley, and stands adjacent to an original 18th century building that includes a wine cellar and red brick tower. The design for the Villa itself is monumental and symmetrical, consisting of one main structure fronted by an impressive raised portico. The facade displays numerous neo-classical embellishments, such as the portico's architrave, frieze and Doric columns, and the pediments on the windows. Perfectly preserved original decorations, designs and frescos can be found in all the rooms on the ground floor. In 1935, the property was bought by Ermanno Rivetti, a textile magnate from the area, and the Villa has remained with the family ever since.

Estate
The estate that surrounds the Villa belongs to the same time period and displays many elements typical of 19th century gardens in Piedmont. Coniferous plants such as Firs and Lebanon cedars dominate the landscape, but many Hardwood trees such as Beeches and Magnolias, as well as native Rhododendrons and Azaleas, can also be found on the grounds. The large terrace in front of the Villa features a number of European fan palms, exotic plants that were popular in Piedmontese gardens and well-suited to the cold winters. There are also two monumental plants in the estate – a Purple European Beech and a Holm Oak that is over 200 years old. Certain elements of the landscaping and the front terrace suggest that Giuseppe Roda, the landscape architect for the House of Savoy, took part in designing the garden during the first half of the 20th century. To the north of the estate, the house and garden are framed by an amphitheatre-shaped hill on which the ancient vineyard grows.

Wines
The vineyard at Villa Era is centuries old, in fact grapes were grown on the hills around Vigliano as early as the Middle Ages. The grapes of Villa Era owe their unique character to the soil of the hill on which they are grown - sandy clay, gravel and marl with marine fossils. The nutritious soil and propitious orientation of the hill itself contribute to the success of the vineyard which previously produced the "Villa Era" Spanna di Vigliano wine, winner of prestigious awards in Italy and abroad (see Catalogo Bolaffi dei Vini del Mondo, ed. Veronelli, 1973). The vineyard was restored in 2006/07 with the addition of 1,500 new cuttings and the implementation of natural and pesticide-free methods of cultivation. The wine is made predominantly with Nebbiolo grapes, enriched with Croatina, Vespolina and Barbera.
For a brief period the wine was named Rondò, after the woods behind the vineyard, where the secular Holm Oak dominates the hill. Since the harvest of 2011, however, the wine won back its DOC and reclaimed its old name of Villa Era.

Events
Villa Era is an ideal setting for conferences, weddings, ceremonies and even as a set for filming, and its ground floor rooms, the garden, the grand front square, courtyard and cellars can be suited to all purposes. The estate also has an illustrious past, having hosted conferences on Naturopathy and Nutrition, Yoga retreats with famous Indian teachers and classical music concerts. In 1990, the tenth anniversary of The Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Award, was held at Villa Era. Today, cultural events alternate with weddings, parties, fashion shoots, guided tours of the garden and vineyard, and wine tastings.

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