A branch of the ancient Levi family of Jewish origin, had been working since the seventeenth century, in the almost alchemical field of distillation, in the Alpine valleys of San Giacomo or Vallespluga, locally called “Val di Giust”, in the municipalities of Fraciscio di Campodolcino.
For over three centuries, distillers called “grapat” emigrated temporarily from these valleys during grape harvest and wine-making, to the wine regions of Piedmont where, using mobile stills, they proceeded to the distillation of pomace for the production of Grappa.
In Fraciscio di Campodolcino, there is still the ancestral home of Levi, called “Casa degli Angeli” (House of Angels) because all the heads of the families that lived there were called Angelo, like the grandfather of Romano and Lidia. Perhaps it is not entirely accidental that, when Veronelli found out about Romano, he called him the “Grappaiol’angelico (The angelic Grappa distiller).”
Serafino Levi married Teresina Balbo and two children were born from the marriage, Lidia and Romano. In 1925, he chose to settle in Neive, land of great wines and where pomace of the highest quality was available, here he founded his direct fire distillery.
Serafino died young in 1933, leaving two small children and his wife, who continued to run the distillery. But she too was marked by a tragic fate, she died during an air raid in 1945. Romano Levi was then 17 years old and a student at Alba. He decided to quit his studies and, with the help of his sister Lidia, continued distillation.
The Levi house-distillery is now a living, Grappa production museum, a real time capsule, where the Genius Loci of Romano Levi, hovers everywhere in art, in the method and time of work, in the simple and basic objects, scents and serenity. The distillery is always open to everyone, it’s a bit more difficult is to find some bottles ready for sale, as the very low production capacity cannot meet the demand that comes from all over the world, but connoisseurs are aware of this, they enjoy the serenity of the place, don’t get angry and wait or try again patiently.