We have been twice in Abruzzo, the region that can rightly claim the title of Italian wild heart, with its three National Parks, that of Abruzzo, the Gran Sasso and the Majella, a Regional Park, Sirente-Velino, and more than 30 between nature reserves and oases.
Of these protected areas is also part of the Regional Reserve of the River Pescara springs, which protects the lake formed by sources with exceptionally pure water, habitat for trout, salamanders spotted, crested newts, but also birds such as moorhens, coots and the grebes.
The sound of silence, among nature and enchanted villages
Abruzzo rise the highest peaks of the Apennines, as the Corno Grande with its 2,912 meters high, and within the parks shine the villages, as many small gems set among the rocks and the green: Lanciano, Sulmona, Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Calascio, Scanno. We’ve visited between Christmas and New Year to celebrate my birthday, definitely the best time to enjoy the rocks and snows of these mountains, on clear days, seem within reach from the Adriatic beaches.
In addition, the Abruzzo is the ideal destination for those traveling with pets between walks in the woods, on the banks of the rivers and in the fresh snow.
The first time we chose the mountains of Abruzzo as a destination for our winter vacation, we stayed at Sextantio Albergo Diffuso in Santo Stefano di Sessanio (Sextantio Albergo Diffuso Via Principe Umberto – Santo Stefano di Sessanio – L’Aquila, Tel. +39 0862 899112 – firstname.lastname@example.org), a timeless place to 1250 meters above sea level in the Gran Sasso National Park, made even more magical by snowfalls that made everything white and muffled.
This ancient Medici village is completely depopulated in the 50s but came back to life thanks to Daniele Kihlgren that happened to be there in 1999, fell in love and started buying up the old medieval buildings, transforming them in the Sextantio abodes, name derived from ‘ancient name of the first Roman settlement.
Singular history of Kihlgren, we are told by his employees who worship him: with a life already marked by drugs, disease and a thousand extreme adventures, he found his salvation getting lost on his motorcycle in these mountains.
And Santo Stefano di Sessanio has risen thanks to Kihlgren, who hired 25 employees and created jobs for another 300 people in related industries.
Sleeping within these walls, in the silence of the village stopped in time, is a unique experience. A stall has become the hotel reception. In the rooms the heating is underfloor, colorful bedspreads are the work of weavers of the place and in the restaurant you eat at “kilometer zero.” There are no television, refrigerator, telephone. Only concessions: the wireless network for Internet and bathrooms with sanitary designed by Philippe Starck: the Kihlgren philosophy is to respect the existing, use only local materials, not build anything, do not add anything, do not change anything, maximum repair and adapt. And in his building hotel did all this to the letter so that it happens that when it snows flakes pass between the walls and the jambs of doors and windows!
Submitted in 2015 among the twenty-two shelters away from the hustle and bustle in Atlas of remote hotels published by Rizzoli Illustrated, Sextantio revives its guests the atmosphere of the past at the table where, starting from breakfast, they are served the flavors of meals country memory of this land in rooms heated by large fireplaces in stone wall with niches in the typical structure of the Barony of Carapelle, in which, then as now, are held in hot meals of the day.
Santo Stefano di Sessanio, despite the earthquake that brought down its symbol, the Civic Tower, is placed among the most beautiful villages in Italy and walking through streets and squares of the village you will be fascinated by loggias, arched doorways, windows decorated , mullioned windows and shelves that adorn the beautiful Tuscan Renaissance style palaces. For centuries, from May to September, during the months of transhumance, the Apulian shepherds brought the sheep to graze here. A living testimony of this long tradition we have known in their own country: Mr. Andrea Coletta, of distant Conversano origins as we immediately guessed from his name widely by us, that in his Bettola di Geppetto (Via Principe Umberto, tel. + 39 0862 1965309) served us his great soup of local lentils, small and very tasty set as Presidi Slow Food.