By Luisa Taliento
Italy is a fairytale setting, according to film director Matteo Garrone. For his film Tale of Tales, he chose Italian landscapes that have an extra power, an emotional power. Many of these places may be “round the corner” and just have to be sought out. They can be experienced in charming hotels that reflect their magic. Here is where to find some of them, from Alto Adige to the South.
SANT’AGATA FELTRIA. FELLINI’S ROMAGNA
The Valmarecchia is a valley on the border of three regions, Emilia Romagna, The Marches and Tuscany, about fifty kilometers from the long Adriatic beaches. You can explore the hills of Rimini on horseback, while a bicycle is the best way to navigate the curves leading to the fortress of San Leo and Santarcangelo di Romagna, where a café under the church bell tower serves the best piadine (typical local sandwiches). These small pleasures recall the worlds of directors Tonino Guerra, Federico Fellini and Antonioni. Beyond the wooden door one slowly discovers the Petrella Guidi Lodge, a hamlet abandoned in the 1990s that took 15 years to restore (tel. 333.2373456 0541.929861oppure, petrel- laguidilodge.com). The result is three residential units furnished with antique carpets and souvenirs of the owners’ travels in Turkey, the Caucasus and Uzbekistan. And a touch of romance: a private cinema, dining under the pergola in summer, and playing bowls in the shade of the great trees. And the gardener comes every day to do his job.
PARRANO. THE MONASTIC PEACE OF UMBRIA
English-speakers call them peace centers. Places where nature has been particularly generous, as in the woods of Parrano, north of Orvieto. The valley is crossed by the Chiani, a fishing river with banks that can be traveled on foot or horseback. On top of the hill overlooking all this wonder is the Erimito Hotelito Del Alma, a former monastery, one of the cradles of Italian spirituality, where old reclusive monks came together to reflect and pray (tel. 0763.891010, eremito.com). The experience can be felt even today by staying in the old, small “cells”, dining communally in the refectory on delicious vegetarian dishes prepared with ingredients from the organic garden, and following meditation classes, yoga and Gregorian chanting. Leave your car at the parking lot and drive up in the staff jeep. Obviously, leaving phone and computer behind.
ALPE DI SIUSI. DOLOMITES 2.0
You feel an urge to take off your shoes and walk barefoot. The meadows of the Alpe di Siusi seem to be cared for one by one by a professional gardener. In this tiny piece of the Val Gardena everything is perfect: the Nordic walking paths, the Sciliar climbing routes, the mountain biking trails, rafting on the Isarco, the huts where cold cuts are sliced and strudel is baked. Cars are banned. So guests of the new Adler Mountain Lodge are given a special permit to access the top of the hill where, in 1938, stood the Mezdì Hotel (tel. 0471.723000, adler-lodge.com). Today the view of Sassolungo and Sasso- piatto it is the same, but the architecture is eco-compatible, made of spruce, and you wake up in the morning to the sound of birdsong. The hospitality of a major hotel of the South Tyrolean and food prepared by an expert chef.
MONTICCHIELLO, WHERE TUSCANY PUTS ON A SHOW
At dawn, at dusk, at night. The Val d’Orcia is never quite the same, it is a succession of hills in ordered rows of vineyards and olive groves that climb up, interspersed with chestnut and beech forests. The most exciting views are those of the natural reserves of Lucciola Bella and Monte Labbro, of the countryside around the fortress of Tintinnano, and the blooms of wild orchids along the ditches. This UNESCO protected landscape influenced the painters of the Renaissance and the forward thinking admirers of this land, who have renovated its old farmhouses. Such as Olmo, a wonderful old residence (tel. 0578.755133, olmopienza.it): in the 17th century it was a post house where pilgrims walking the Via Francigena to Rome could find refreshment and spend the night. Today it is a small, beautifully kept hotel (5 suites and one bedroom, Tuscan-Mediterranean style) with personalized service. Meals are served at the time and place of your choice, even in the pool. The garden is a riot of roses.