I would’t have been in Santo Stefano di Sessanio if I hadn’t known about the Sextantio Albergo Diffuso, the exclusive scattered hotel where rooms are arranged in restored ancient buildings.
Staying at the Sextantio is about experiencing a new concept of hospitality, living rural traditions while still enjoying standard hotel amenities. It allows you to appreciate the frugal beauty and simple life of a medieval village, with just a few added comforts, and discover local culinary heritage and rituals.
The Sextantio arose from the initiative of Daniele Kihlgren, the young entrepreneur whose mission is to save Italy’s medieval ghost towns with authentic restorations. Alongside with local organizations, he decided to bring the village back to life, and turn part of the abandoned houses into a multi-building hotel, so as to generate jobs and income, discouraging the complete depopulation of the town. The multi-building formula also favours the renovation and upgrading of old buildings, while at the same time avoiding the construction of new hotel facilities to accomodate tourists.
The project of Sextantio involved the retention of the original use of domestic buildings, dated back to 15th century, and the preservation of the peasant life through the use of traditional handcrafts and raw materials.
One of the rooms, Le Rondini, comes with a swallow’s nest on the inside, that’s how serious they are about architectural conservation.
There are 31 rooms that widely vary in size and range. We have been given the executive suite – the room we booked had heating problems! – with a wonderful freestanding bath in the bedroom and a big fireplace.
The interior design of the rooms is inspired by pictures that Paul Scheuermeier took in Abruzzo in the 20s of twentieth century. Rooms feature ancient objects, often stored in museums, and traditional local materials. The hotel’s philosopy can be found in the preservation of small windows, the dim light, the uneven floors and walls, and the thoughtful choice of extras, such as olive oil toiletries, homemade “vino cotto” and locally-made candles.
Rooms are arranged with woolen mattresses, handmade bedspread woven on traditional looms, woodwarm-scarred tables, terracotta jugs, which create a nice contrast with contemporary sanity ware, underfloor heating, and stylish modern light bulb clusters.
Sextantio main restaurant is the Locanda sotto gli archi, a dimly lit space with impressive stone arches and a charming fireplace. The restaurant serves hearty and genuine meals, made with strictly local and seasonal ingredients. The museum dedicated to the people of Abruzzo was the inspiration for the handcrafted plates and mugs used for all meals and drinks. Here’s where they serve the complimentary buffet breakfast for hotel’s guests, which includes a range of cheeses, cakes, omelettes, fruit juices and home-made jams.
There are also a tearoom open throughout the day, called the Tisaneria, and a wine-bar, Il Cantinone (the big cellar), open early in the evening for the aperitivo. Both places offer the best atmosphere.
Sextantio Albergo Diffuso philosophy is to stay true to the culture and customs of its ancestors. With the help of the museum of the people of Abruzzo, Sextantio has been dedicated to recreating a true to life experience of being in town hundreds of years ago. The traditions of a medieval village have been brought to light through a wide range of authentic activities to do during your stay:
- cooking class
- bread making
- weaving course
- soap making class
- pastry making
Sextantio Albergo Diffuso: useful information
Sextantio main building is located in Via della Torre, 67020 Santo Stefano di Sessanio AQ.
There’s another Sextantio Albergo diffuso in Matera, Basilicata, called Le Grotte della Civita. Because of the tourist attractiveness of the Sassi di Matera, prices are definitely higher.
I believe that the best time for visiting the hotel is in Autumn, when it’s less likely to encounter snow and ice, but the weather is cold enough to light the fireplace.
What I Loved more:
The absolute absence of plastic.
What I loved least:
There’s no bathroom door.
Travelling to Abruzzo?
Click here to know more activities and ideas to do in Santo Stefano di Sessanio.