A love story in Piedmont

reading time : 6 Minuten
Wagging her tail, Emma greets us at the door and is as happy as if we had known each other for ever. This friendly mixed-race lady dog is a love-child. Her father was Anton – a pure-bred Rhodesian Ridgeback who had spontaneously fallen in love with the mixed-race lady dog from the neighbouring farm – and the result is Emma, now nine years old, and she loves – guests!

And so do master and mistress Andreas and Elena, the owners of Corte di Lequio – one of the most beautiful small country hotels in Piedmont.

It was also love at first sight for Elena and Andreas – which in 2020 will be exactly 20 years ago. Lightning struck not in Italy but in Düsseldorf, where both of their lives were centred. Andreas as the owner of an advertising agency and father of a son, and Elena working as an interior designer and mother of two children.

At an early age, to learn German, Elena moved from Milan to Düsseldorf, where she met her first husband and the planned six months turned into many years.

After Elena’s and Andreas’ paths had crossed – both had previous relationships and both had children – and they decided to share their future lives together, they discovered they had an identical lifetime’s dream: their own staging post! A small country hotel!

The idea matured during a holiday in a fabulous lodge in South Africa. But when Elena showed Piedmont to Andreas during a stay in Italy, he fell in love with it at once. IF it is to be a country hotel, then HERE in Piedmont, NOT in South Africa or France! 

What began as a dream in 2005 slowly turned into a real plan. Various appointments were arranged with estate agents to search for the perfect property in the perfect location.

It was all rather frustrating, however, because nothing suitable was available. Finally, disillusioned, they both packed their bags to travel back to Düsseldorf, because their jobs and businesses at home couldn’t continue to operate by themselves.

Shortly before their return journey, Elena and Andreas called in at a Piedmont trattoria for a farewell plate of pasta. The proprietor had heard of their search, and thought he knew of a property nearby. Although it was more like a heap of stones than a building, he said the location was wonderful, on a plateau with a magnificent view.

Somewhat exasperated by fruitless searching for days on end, Elena had already chucked in the towel and just wanted to go home, back to Düsseldorf, but Andreas wouldn’t let go, and persuaded her to view this one last property as a final throw of the dice. No sooner said than done.

The rest is like pulp fiction: an ancient ruined farmhouse in a perfect location and with a dream of a view.
It was love at first sight for both of them, and plans and initial sketches of the future floor layouts were already drawn up during the return journey to Düsseldorf! That was it! The decision was made. And this year – 2020 – it will be exactly fifteen years ago! 

Then work began to create a fine country hotel from the pile of rubble.

The fact that it took longer than planned, involved more hassle than they had imagined and cost more than had been calculated is another story, but the CORTE DI LEQUIO hotel opened its doors in 2008.

Elena’s and Andreas’ lifetime dream had been fulfilled!

They had created their private sanctuary complete with their own apartment, a pool, a spa, seven sumptuous guestrooms and a generously-sized but nevertheless cosy living-dining area with a long oak table and direct access to the kitchen.

Elena´s family constantly practised good cooking and always ate well – and what their grandma and mother put on the table in Milan at that time made its mark on Elena. She cooks divinely but only occasionally, when time allows. Guests book overnight accommodation with a late-sleeper breakfast and, if they are lucky, Elena will have a Brasato al Barolo (beef braised in Barolo wine) sizzling in her big, wonderful kitchen in the evening or – if November has arrived – pasta with the legendary white truffles found and personally delivered that morning by the friendly neighbouring farmer.

Most of the guests in the seven rooms don’t know one another, but they sit together at the long table – for breakfast as well as the evening meal.

Basically, there is a surprise menu with fresh ingredients selected by Elena at the morning market – pure inspiration. And to suit the dinner – a fine wine from the region, chosen by Elena of course!

Evenings are spent sitting comfortably at the fireside with a “nightcap”, or out of doors in summer enjoying the panoramic view across the Alpes-Maritimes.

Interior designer Elena and art collector Andreas were both able to let their imagination have free rein in the seven guest rooms. Both have the same taste in the style of furnishing, and the choice of art on the walls gives it away: this is the work of a connoisseur. Andreas already had a gallery while studying for a university degree in Düsseldorf, was always in contact with artists and still collects contemporary art today.

Andreas the collector also has a weakness for classic cars. He often likes to drive the Piedmont curves in his 1978 Porsche, planning the next tour for guests, and his Fiat Abarth is a reminder of the nearby city of Turin and the experience world of the Mirafiori Motor Village.

Andreas is a passionate motorist who can tell many tales about the Mille Miglia historic car races in which he took part.
For historic vehicle enthusiasts, he organises a one-week tour through Piedmont each spring, setting out from Turin, for a maximum of seven historic cars – including overnight accommodation in the Corte di Lequio hotel! 

Many holidaymakers have become regular guests, and it is advisable to book well in advance. After all, the impression conveyed here is of a holiday among friends.

In spite of no advertising, Corte di Lequio has become an “insider’s tip”, through word of mouth alone, for travellers who prefer a private, informal atmosphere rather than a big commercial hotel.

Anyone who is not taking part in a wine-tasting tour or experiencing the Piedmont as part of a round trip, and simply just wants a “stopover”, will receive perfect accommodation here.

Just book one of the beautiful rooms with a view over the pool towards the Alpes-Maritimes (Nos. 5 and 6!) or overlooking a private terrace (No. 4), then sleep in, enjoy a delicious late breakfast and go for a stroll (with or without Emma). 

Afterwards off to the gym, into the pool or jacuzzi, the sauna, the steam bath, or treat yourself to a massage. And savour Elena´s culinary skills together with a glass of Barolo or Barbera in the evening at the fireside – the ideal “slow-down program”! 

And even after more than eleven years in the country hotel business, Elena and Andreas still love to welcome, pamper and show hospitality to their guests.

When saying farewell, almost all the guests are already dreaming of their next visit, and stroke Emma when they bid a rather wistful goodbye to the dearly-loved mixed-race lady dog  of the Villa Corte di Lequio.

Information, contact and booking:

© Ingrid Roosen-Trinks 
June 2020

Ingrid Roosen-Trinks has used the Corte di Lequio for overnight accommodation several times as a self-paying guest. Like all of our authors, she does not allow anyone to invite her, and pays for every booking privately