In Italy there are wonderful places, which once discovered do not forget anymore. They can be landscapes, villages, hotels with a unique identity, or it can be all this together. It is the Sextantio in Santo Stefano di Sessanio. An intact and uncontaminated nature in one of the most interesting areas between the Gran Sasso National Park and the Monti della Laga where the agricultural landscape merges with the mountain villages.
“To discover the deepest sense of a place, you need to sleep in a house in that place, not in an international hotel”
The Nobel Prize winner for literature Herman Hesse wrote it in his story On Voyage, and the diffused hotel Sextantio fully embodies its idea and substance.
The entrepreneur philosopher Daniele Kihlgren has the merit of having given light, not new, but that which has always simply been turned off, to this small and true portion of Italy: “many years ago I arrived almost by chance in a semi abandoned village on earth d’Abruzzo, S. Stefano di Sessanio, I had lost myself on the dirt roads around a Medieval castle, the Rocca di Calascio and wandering through those territories, I finally reached an asphalted road that went up the mountain halfway up to Campo Imperatore, the plateau located south-east of the Gran Sasso d’Italia, below this road appeared the hamlet surrounded by a small lake created by a natural spring.
In the ancient village and in the surrounding agricultural landscape there was no sign of the twentieth century, everything had stopped as in the past. Only the stone village that merged with a rural landscape full of signs of ancient practices now in disuse. I had been looking for places for years where this landscape had not yet been corrupted. I went to my accountant and explained to him the potential of this village paradoxically saved from abandonment and from the dramatic fates of emigration that have bled Southern Italy. I explained to him that I imagined a possible redeployment for these intense and desolate lands “, says Kihlgren.
He got to work, the research and studies were thorough and lasting, the anthropologist and CEO Nunzia Taraschi took care (and still continues the study) to ensure respect for local identity through research started with the Museo delle Genti d ‘ Abruzzo of Pescara, to preserve, rediscover and above all recover the minor historical heritage of the area and therefore of the soul that would have been of the Sextantio.
Thus, at the beginning of the new millennium there was a rebirth, a unique resurrection (then also proposed among the Sassi of Matera) that tastes of virtuosity and sentiment. Sextantio became the embodiment of high human thought in symbiosis with the force of nature.
We wanted to tell you three incomparable experiences that you can have here at Sextantio:
The unique atmosphere of the rooms remained faithful to their past
The rooms, or rather the houses, were once homes, stables, barns and housing for farmers and shepherds. The essence of Sextantio “lives” in the hotel rooms (25 of 29 post-Covid sessions available): the walls left sooty, the small windows, the ancient Abruzzese blankets made with the frame, the bathrooms obtained “in view” in the rooms so as not to alter the original structures that overlook the streets of the village. The revival of local traditions goes so far as to contemplate the most minute details, the towels, the wool mattresses, the sheets from the wedding collapses, the natural colors of the blankets. The beds remained high, as they were to house the cattle that brought heat in winter, there are still working stone fireplaces, numerous candles create the atmosphere and you can still enter by opening the old wooden doors using the large original wrought iron keys. From a symbolic and emotional point of view, it is the synthesis of details that makes the difference, to create a unique atmosphere. Living in a Sextantio room, strictly without TV, mini bar and telephone, is something surreal and rewarding. A real luxury, for the sensitive predisposed to grasp its essence.
Traditional dishes at the table and the use of native crops
“Locanda sotto gli Archi” is the table that Sextantio makes available to travelers in the same conservative perspective. The internal space is characterized by the two large stone arches resting on support columns and a central stone fireplace. The tables and chairs are prior to the 20th century; the ceramic plates and pottery are handmade and inspired by a research on ceramic for use commissioned by the Museo delle Genti d’Abruzzo (which the talented Nunzia Taraschi has always dealt with). Furthermore, also for the proposals on the menu there has been (and is still ongoing) a research on the popular cuisine that Taraschi carries out together with the Tinari family of the famous starred restaurant Villa Maiella in Guardiagrele (Ch): exclusive use of native crops, traditional dishes of the past, of the agro-pastoral culture, raw materials as modest as of the highest quality capable of telling what the kitchen of these parts was (and is), both tasty and conceptual dishes, such as the idea of re-proposing the “single dish” that was once served on the tables of peasant families.
Anthropological approach, therefore, for a menu that changes daily and that, which started in 2006, seems to have reached a concrete framework with the agreement and the symbiosis between the parties. In any case, whether you like recipes or not, the pampering of the dining room that Nicola Ursini reserves for its customers is worthy of the best three-star Michelin restaurants.
The landscape, its people and ancient textures
Italy is rich in villages like Santo Stefano di Sessanio di Sessanio, but each one has something more (or less considering the art of subtracting) than the others, especially by changing the geographical area of the peninsula. Here at 1250mt., In a fortified medieval village immersed in the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park, everything really seems to have stopped, the air you breathe is good for your heart. There is unique peace, there is history, tangible culture, the senses expand and the mind is free to travel along the Apennine mountains that surround and embrace all around. The village is small, has a little more than a hundred inhabitants but attracts a lot and there are many foreigners looking for emotion. There is the shop dedicated to the working and weaving of wool, a herbal tea made available by Sextantio where you can indulge in the afternoon herbal teas prepared with local herbs of high therapeutic value, and there are also those who thought it well to invest in this place such as under 40 Paolo Quaglia (former creator and organizer of Naturale, the Abruzzese festival of artisan wines in Capestrano), which has just created Cantina Chiesamadre where it offers his personal and valid selection of wines, accompanied by few but essential dishes served in a green garden with majestic attached view.