During the past Christmas holidays in Italy my husband and I had the pleasure to show to our Australian friends one of the highlights of my region: Santo Stefano di Sessanio.
The village of Santo Stefano has been nominated one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. It is part of the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park.
Our aussie mates Tim and Damien were more than speechless at the sight of it with a white blanket gently covering it all. That day everything appeared light, immaculate and silent.
The paese (village) has various botteghe (workshops) were artisans create marvelous wooden statues, sculpture, handmade soaps and beauty products as well as little shops were you can have a homemade gelato (maybe not with a not-too-kind zero degrees outside) or buy the local produce (lentils and saffron to start with).
The most amazing thing was to see the aussies playing with fresh snow around the village!
We stopped for lunch at a Locanda (Inn) with a very welcoming entrance. We ordered some typical zuppa di lenticchie (lentil soup), homemade pasta with cheese and spinach, some fresh local bread and to finish off a good tazzina of coffee, the short one to be clear!
Then, out we go into the freezing snow again! We reached one of my favourite place in the world. Well, there must be other people who find this place fascinating and mystic enough to make it the set of the adventurous, fantasy movie Ladyhawke (1985). The movie is a fairytale that takes place in the thirteenth century: a man from a French village transforms two young lovers in two animals, the boy is a wolf during the night while the girl is a beautiful lady, and on the contrary, during the day he becomes a knight while she turns into a hawk. Never ending romantic, fairytaly, day dreamer as I am I obviously love this movie! Coming to this place has always something explainable… the tiny chiesa (church of Saint Maria della Pietà) and the ruins of the castle on top of the hill, they change along with the atmosphere that you breath according to the season, mood and feelings you present yourself with. This place can make you feel warmly embraced, enchanted, or frightened in its majestic desolation, sometimes even sad in solitude. One thing for sure, it possesses a power.
I could see from my friends’ eyes they were witnessing something special and unique. As for me, I was particularly excited to admire the Rocca and the surrounding landscape all in a picturesque white colour, my first time.
Time to go back to the car and start heading home. It was getting really cold. On our way down the hill we spotted the sunset from behind the mountains, saying its special goodbye to everyone of us, my goodbye said: “I will follow you wherever you go, I am home”.
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