In loving memory of Vito Benevelli (1949 - 2016)
I first met my friend Vito Benevelli when during a brief visit to Torino, Italy, my friend and work colleague Giorgio Mallia took me to his restaurant Frandin da Vito in San Mauro Torinese prior to a business meeting, about ten or twelve years ago. Giorgio knew about my passion for hunting, and also knew that Vito was not only a great hunter, but also a fantastic chef, and that his piemontese menu always had a great offering of wild game. His wife, Signora Luciana waited on us, and before we left she introduced me to Vito and we talked briefly about hunting. To say that my first meal there was memorable would be a gross understatement, but let's also say that it was "the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
In the years following that first visit I returned several times, we would spend more and more time talking about hunting, while savouring a glass of Nebbiolo followed by a Genipi, that Vito prepared himself with flowers he collected while hunting in the surrounding Alps.
Then when I lived for about a year in Torino in 2011/2012, we got even closer, and would meet at least every week that was in town. Once he took me shooting Élica, and on another time he took me to his hometown of Monforte D'Alba to hunt capriolo. He was frustrated because it was buck season, but only does and fawns appeared in the field. I remember that when we got back to the restaurant in San Mauro Torinese we had some battuta di carne cruda and thens shared a tajarin al ragu di coniglio, always complemented by a bottle of his own Benevelli Nebbiolo wine.
Even after I left Torino I was able to visit Vito at least once a year, and a couple months ago he called me saying that there were capriolo everywhere in the piemontese hills and that I should meet him at his home in Monforte so we could hunt together. Luckily I was able to combine a business trip to Livorno with a visit to Vito and we were together from Friday, September 9th, until Monday, 12th.
I was very concerned when he picked me at the train station in Asti I was very concerned with him. He seemed tired, was short of breath and temper, coughing constantly, as if the late European summer heat was suffocating him.
I could not have had a better host than Vito, along with Signora Luciana and their daughter Carlota. We hunted every morning and evening, always saw capriolo, but had very bad luck with his 240 Weatherby Magnum rifle. Eventually I shot the rifle and it was shooting patterns, not groups!
Finally on the Monday morning at an Azienda Faunistico Venatoria in Mondovì, after once again being entertained by several does and starting back, I saw a different animal. We stopped the car and I could see antlers. Vito told me to get the zaino (backpack) and rifle out and get ready. And that time the Weatherby didn't betray us, and the photo you see above is from the capriolo that I shot, on what would be Vito's last hunting day.
Carlotta called this morning at 4:45 with terrible news. Vito's hunter's heart betrayed him and I lost my dear friend.
In bocca al lupo, bravissimo amico Vito! May God be your guide.