Friday was a public holiday in Rome, so me and some coworkers at Venere fled the oppressing heat of Rome to stay in the Latium countryside for the weekend. We headed to the Latium medieval village of San Donato Val di Comino, some 150 km from Rome and 95 km from Naples, on the slopes of the Apennines in the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise.
We stayed at Villa Grancassa, a lovely country mansion hotel in the centre of the village. The beautifully restored 19th century villa was built by local don Francesco Nardone and Sir Felice Grancassa, hence its name. It is now a three-star country hotel run by a friendly local couple and family members. The rooms are tastefully decorated, the hotel restaurant serves yummy home-made local cuisine with emmer wheat as the recurrent ingredient. The villa also boasts beautiful facilities for small conferences or destination weddings in a stunning environment of natural beauty and the typical Mediterranean mountain village.
The region does not nearly get the attention it deserves compared to the better known regions of Abruzzo, Tuscany and Umbria, but it certainly is an excellent destination for lovers of unspoilt nature. There are some stunning hiking paths for the summer and cross country ski slopes in the winter time. The region is also popular with astronomy lovers that come to explore the beautiful starry skies, unspoilt by city lights.
In the afternoon, three of us went hiking while my coworker’s wife and her friend, inspired by the surroundings of the mansion, went off watercolor painting.
Under the burning sun we courageously headed towards the mountains, following a local’s instructions to go straight ahead until we found a
yellow brick white road that would lead us into the national park. Thanks to my outstanding physical condition we actually did quite well climbing up. The fact that one of my coworkers was literally pushing me up the mountain did little to spoil my triumph - my disc herniation comes in quite handy when seeking assistance from helpful friends! I’m quite sure we walked for far longer than 30 minutes, but the announced abbeveratoio (drinking place for animals) was nowhere in sight.
We ended up in a blair-witch-project-like pine forest where we found a picnic area complete with barbecue and the skull of an unidentified animal. That night, we slept like roses. And the next morning: back to smoggy Rome.
If the story of my wonderful weekend in the country inspired you to do likewise, the country hotel we stayed at can be booked through their own web site, or if you prefer instant confirmation, on Venere.com.