This is a translation of an article written by Gigi Cavalli, a fellow townsman, who describes the reality of Bedonia and surroundings in his blog “Esvaso”. He has very kindly given permission to share his words with you.
The regulars of the first morning coffee found the lights off, the curtains drawn, and a big white sign on the door stating “Closed”. It was the 1st of January 2016. It wasn’t just any old cafè that was closed, it was “Bar Mellini”. A wave of sadness swept over us all. A long story without the happy ending. In the following days, Bedonia seemed crippled, almost as if one of the most representative icons of “Bedonia-ness” had been cancelled.
I already had a very good idea of what this place meant to Bedonia folk – and not only to them – but since I hadn’t lived out the story personally, I decided to ask Remo (an elderly resident of Bedonia) to fill me in on its past. In order to do this, we need to take a step backwards in time, to the thirties, when Albis Mellini and Luisa Pioselli opened their tavern/inn. In those days, in a public house, it was possible to have a hot meal as well as a glass of wine or a coffee.
The popularity of the café reached its peak in the fabulous 50’s and 60’s, when the daughter Duina Mellini took over, newly married to Lino Ambanelli. This is when “Mellini” became an icon, the summer dancing focal point of the Taro Valley, a meeting place for the young, basically the elegant area of the town. Because back then it was an exclusive venue, unapproachable, accessible only by the “best” people, the fashionable young generation. Table service was carried out by Gigi Keber, the waitor par-excellence, in his impeccable uniform: black jacket, white shirt and black bow-tie. The main attraction of the café was the terrace where, on summer evenings, it was possible to dance to a small band or to the records of a juke-box, and the lights would reflect on the underlying brook Pelpirana, creating magical effects.
In 1970, the management was taken over by Mr Previdi, who came from Paris where he had emigrated years before. A most charming person, who however expected his clients to be quiet and well-behaved as if they were in church; the exact opposite of the previous management. His intention was to add a touch of refinement but, as often happens, there were complaints on one hand, and satisfaction on behalf of those who shared his idea. The younger customers were continuously reprimanded, and many of them began to desert the café. In the hope of finding another place more suitable to their requirements, in the meantime most of them took to sitting on the metal railings opposite the entrance, the ones which ran across the “Buca di Mellini” (the Mellini hole), which allowed them to watch the ladies go by, even though they were not actually patronizing the café.
The “Parisian” management did not last very long, and in 1972, it changed hands and name, becoming “Bar Gianni”, when Gianni Bruni and his wife Rosetta Malpeli, who had just returned from England, became the new owners, and the café went back to being the old “Mellini” everyone knew. From Dicembre ‘ 79 till the summer of ’83, the couple opened up the discoteque called “La Piramide”, underneath the café; another unforgettable venue for the generation of that period.
From 1983 til 2015, the Moruzzi family took over, and after a long journey together, Teresa was the last barlady to serve a coffee in the memorable “Tubino” cups, and to prepare her lovely icecreams, amongst which the Vaniglia Viva flavor.
On the 4th of July of this year, after two years of darkness, the café was transformed into the “Ristorante Mellini”. A new chapter in the history is just beginning…..