It all starts from one ancient family
It all starts here, because the “Antica Dimora del Gruccione”, the main building of our Albergo Diffuso, continues the property of the Mura and Meloni Camosso Delitala family which combines Lussurgese, Bosane and, from the Camosso, Piedmontese origins.
Perhaps, also as a result of these roots, a characteristic trait of its members was orienting towards scientific training, albeit with a substantial humanistic component, towards dedication to taking care of the land and, in particular, of viticulture. Don Niccolò Meloni (1840-1896), whose great-grandson is the owner Gabriella Belloni, is recognised for his remarkable contribution to the modernisation of viticulture as both a favoured assistant of Prof. Ottavi, first in Ajaccio and later in Casale Monferrato, and as a member of the Consultative Commission for phylloxera at the Ministry of Agriculture, and of the Board of Directors of the Royal School of Viticulture and Oenology in Cagliari.
As an owner of vineyards, the renowned brandy distiller was the first in Sardinia to transform the art of distillation from wine for brandy and cognac into a business, which remains an authentic testimony of the application of the sciences to a form of agriculture which aims to be respectful of regional organic resources, primarily by protecting local cultivars.
“This product – Cognac Sardegna – now in its perfect ageing, has reached the highest level of finesse and is especially notable because of its perfume; it has been served in several official lunches and receptions and considered equal to the most well-known French brands“…
These were the words of the insert in the “Italian Wine Journal” of 1896 in praise of the great distillate, made from the wines of Montiferru and aged in oak barrels, which the Distillery of Professor Niccolò Meloni successfully produced in Santu Lussurgiu, winning many awards. Traces of the awards, which were granted by the King, by the Ministry of Agriculture, by the Chambers of Commerce and by the exhibitors of Fairs and Competitions, remained in the conspicuous medal which the family donated, as they said at the time, “to the homeland” during war. Today they only exist in the elegant poster created by Simonetti’s Doyen lithograph from Turin which advertised Cognac, in its beautiful bottle of fine glass, along with more salient and significant elements (like the nuraghe – in reference to the one located in the beloved company of Banzos – and the grape branch, like the dwarf palm and the oak barrel, like the female figure in Sardinian costume and the family crest) to evoke the history and territorial identity of the product.
This link with the territory lived on thanks to the activities started later by Deodato, son of Niccolò who, after his agricultural studies in Portici and Pisa, continued the success of the distilleries and directed his main interests towards both viticulture and zootechnics, achieving results which are important and still recognised today, in the breeding of cattle and, in particular, of horses, the most significant being the definition of the breed of the Sardinian Anglo-Arab horse.
After the Second World War, which resulted in a real and consistent dispersion of the family and the continuity of the commitment to value it has conducted in agriculture and related activities, almost all its members from the most recent generation now live outside Sardinia: the great-grandchildren of Niccolò Meloni and Luigina Camosso Delitala have already established their families between Turin, Milan, Padua, Bologna and Rome and, above all, have detached their goods and interests from the island. Of the residences, the large house of Santu Lussurgiu remains used by the family, first only for the harvest and later only for the summer holidays.
So the history of the building is still being written even if, due to today’s motivation, some important dates should be noted over more than fifty years: in fact, the ownership of the house passed through inheritance to the sisters Giuseppina and Giovanna Mura who loved it dearly despite living in Rome and Padua respectively; in the late 1960s, both their daughters, Gabriella Belloni and Carla Colavolpe, albeit very young, declared to their mothers that they wanted to take responsibility for their respective parts and, in the 1990s, Gabriella took the serious decision to acquire the part of the building which Carla was now regretfully forced to sell because her family life required her to spend most of her time in England. The house was therefore almost able to enjoy an independent and serene life which has completely preserved its poetry as a guardian of the memories it holds.
In the late 1990s came the “actions” which, in the community context, highlighted the value of places and environments which, hidden and unrelated to classical and industrial development models, instead revealed themselves as precious deposits of unique and specific resources pertaining to the intangible and material culture of the region. After studying philosophy, Gabriella came a researcher in Germany. Her specific interests are the history of science between the 16th and 17th centuries and, above all, the reading of events through the examination of “micro-history”, the holistic interpretation of knowledge which is defined as “circular” in that it is as attentive to the results of the classical sciences as it is to those coming from the discoveries of empirical and popular experimentalism.
To this formation, to the undisputed love for the poetics of the places, the territories and consequently of the family home, we can link the “first cause” of the origin of the Albergo Diffuso, a type of accommodation which lent itself well, then and today, to attributing new functions to the spaces of the Dimora. Since the late 1990s, the establishment of the Management Company, the definition of the corporate mission and the participation itself in regional projects and tenders has increasingly clarified an orientation which defines the Antica Dimora del Gruccione in its desire to be a territorial garrison, consistent with the initial assumptions which have preserved its very existence.