An enchanted haven for all who wish for an experience of the emotions
Villa Crespi was and is a dream come true, lying on the shores of romantic Lake Orta.
Cristoforo Benigno Crespi, a pioneer of the Italian cotton industry, while travelling on business in the Middle East was bewitched by Baghdad and its charms and in 1879 finished his own magnificent Moorish villa surrounded by a park that sloped down to the lake.
It had taken him 30 years to complete.
Originally the villa was called Villa Pia, as Mr Crespi dedicated it to his wife, Pia Crespi.
The construction work was entrusted to the architect Angelo Colla to whom Benigno Crespi left carte blanche, allowing him to express the very best of himself and his passion for decorative detail while highlighting the middle eastern character Crespi desired.
Over the course of time, a series of owners have held Villa Crespi, and when the Marquis Fracassi of Torre Rossano acquired it in the 1930's, it became an exclusive place for visits by poets, nobles and kings, well-known all over Northern Europe.
The way to discovery: Antonino Cannvacciuolo and his path in life
Antonino Cannavacciuolo was born in Vico Equense, near Sorrento on 16th April 1975 and always knew his life would be focused on the kitchen, even as a child.
Some of his earliest memories are waking up in his family home where on Sunday morning the smell of his grandmother’s ragout permeated the whole house. His memories of her traditional recipe and preparations for family lunches are the reason convivial gatherings and a passion for authentically genuine food have become the mainstays of his culinary philosophy.
His father, Andrea, was a fine decorative artist, a professor at the hotel and catering school of Vico Equense where Antonino studied and graduated.
After school Antonino had several jobs in the province of Naples before leaving his sunny Mediterranean homeland, heading north for new roads and adventures in Piedmont, in north west Italy.
Then came internships with renowned French 3 Michelin starred chefs in Alsace. He immediately embarked on a career marked and enriched by new experiences, the comparison of diverse cultures and inspiration which brought him great satisfaction and knowledge. In 1999, he and Cinzia Primatesta, his future wife, took on the management of Villa Crespi, a fine Moorish villa on Lake Orta with 14 rooms and suites, a charming hotel and restaurant with 50 à la carte covers.
The first awards arrived and with them in 2003 his first Michelin star, the Three Hats in the Italian Guida dell’Espresso, and Three Forks in the Gambero Rosso.
Antnino Cannavacciuolo received his second Michelin star in 2006.
More recognition was to follow, including the Foodie Top 100 Restaurants Europe in 2013, and more, far too many to name but each one a source of pride and encouragement to reach new heights in what he and Cinzia feel is the fantastic world of hospitality and haute cuisine.
In the meantime he and Cinzia marry at Orta San Giulio and together they create their own family. Antonino by this time is deeply attached to his adopted homeland, Piemont, from which he takes inspiration, enriching his already innovative culinary gifts which perfectly marry ingredients and flavors of both south and north.
Active participation in events over the course of the years has meant he has become one of the best known and loved chefs in Italy, not just for his masterful creations in the kitchen but also thanks to a strong personality and undeniable charisma.
A few TV appearances reveal a real capacity for communication and in 2013 he films the first series of the Italian version of Kitchen Nightmares for Sky, and the second one in 2014. Having experienced first hand the tough world of study and apprenticeship, practice and then success, he now discovers a new exciting mission: helping restaurant owners in difficulty find the right combination of organization, complicity and passion. His aim is to change the fate of the various restaurants in difficulty, helping the owners to manage their businesses while learning to cooperate with staff so as to find the path to success.
2013 sees the publication of Antonino Cannavacciuolo‘s book of recipes, which loosely translated means “I am boss in the Kitchen” published by Mondadori and a page in the much sought after Lavazza calendar.
So, with inborn altruism and love for his neighbour, he conveys to others what he has skilfully achieved in his own life, discovering new, fulfilling successes as a“Celebrity Chef” while serving his profession.