Beautifully restored Maiella stone villa in stunning countryside with mountain views just 40 minutes from Adriatic beaches and 20 minutes from ski resort. Historic villages and river plunge pools nearby. Casa Olivia is a perfect, tranquil retreat in breathtaking scenery in beautiful Abruzzo, Italy
Visiting the village of Serramonacesca is like stepping back in time. Nestled in the foothills of the Maiella mountains, Casa Olivia is just 20 minutes from a ski resort and 40 minutes from the sea. With 2 restaurants, 2 bars, and a famous abbey, it is so Italian you expect Al Pacino to walk by any minute, humming that tune – you know the one I mean. Lucky for us, Abruzzo is still relatively undiscovered (unlike Tuscany)...yet we still have the gorgeous vine and olive grove filled backroads, amazing medieval hilltop villages & mountain views to boot! We have been overwhelmed by the warmth, generosity, and friendliness of the local people.
Our house is in the tiny hamlet of Garifoli, about half a mile from the village of Serramonacesca. It is detached and very tranquil. It comfortably sleeps 6 people with three bedrooms (7th on rollaway plus we have a portable baby bed available). The house was a ruin but has been completely renovated. We have worked hard to retain the character of this ancient Maiella stone property that once housed the curate of the famous San Liberatore Abbey- the 1000 years old church which is right down in town below us. The house is thought to be about 400 years old. The floors are stone and terracotta; there are wooden ceilings and fitted shuttered windows.
There are three pretty bedrooms, one sizable family shower room, and one en-suite bathroom. Two of the bedrooms have a double bed, one has two single beds. We also have a fold up bed and a baby cot available for infants/babies but we do not recommend the house for toddlers as there are too many open stairways.
The kitchen has been tastefully restored and fitted with modern appliances (fridge, freezer, gas hob, electric oven, dishwasher and a microwave/toaster oven. There is also a washing machine (no dryer-we use clotheslines in our unspoiled area!!) and gas central heating (no air conditioning but we do have a couple fans).
The characterful dining room has a vaulted wooden ceiling, and the living room has an open log fire, a DVD player and a selection of DVDs. The stone floor boasts flags taken from the San Liberatore abbey. Doors opens onto the terrace with spectacular views over the Italian rolling hills and distant Maiella mountains. There is a barbecue for Summer al fresco dining, an outside table, chairs and a large parasol to protect you from the Italian sun. There is also an area next to the house of dappled shade, perfect for snoozing at Siesta time. We also have beach chairs and beach towels for summer outings to the shore.
The garden gently slopes away with olive, walnut, pear, apple as well as our newest young cherry, lemon and fig trees. There is a private drive with ample parking.
Exploring dozens of medieval towns
Visiting the dozens of remains of castle ruins and amazing hermitages
In the Summer in Serramonacesca there are numerous activities on offer. This is spectacular walking country with high peaks and steep gorges. Throughout the Summer months, it seems that every village aims to outdo its neighbor by hosting the most incredible festivals. The entertainment is all free, firework displays and cannon fire day and night, music varies from full-on rock to sublime classical and operatic concerts. We can advise on what is likely to be happening during your stay.
Our house is in the foothills of the Maiella mountains in the pretty village of Serramonacesca. The village is some distance from the historic town of L'Aquila and closer to the coast and Pescara. Serramonacesca is on the edge of the Maiella National Park which is an unspoiled haven for wildlife. There is wild boar and even bears in the mountains. This is a birdwatcher's paradise and the abundance of butterflies and wild-flowers is quite stunning. Towards the coast, the countryside becomes more reminiscent of a Tuscan landscape with rolling hills, fields full of poppies, vineyards, and olive groves. A river runs through the valley below the house and in the Summer you can cool off in a series of plunge pools. The closest warm waters of the Adriatic are about 30 minutes drive away. We can advise on some of the quieter beaches a little further away. Abruzzo’s 129 km long, sandy coastline is home to many popular beach resorts, among them are Vasto on Abruzzo’s southern coast; and Silvi Marina, whose sands are considered among the best in Italy, Giulianova, Francavilla al Mare and Pineto.
This is spectacular cycling country. Around the house, the roads are relatively quiet and the countryside is undulating, but for the fitter among you, Casa Olivia is a stone's throw from the infamous ""Blockhaus"" leg of the Giro D'Italia, which rises from sea level in Pescara to over 2000m at the top.
Horseriding & bicycle rentals are available in the area.
Abruzzo's wealth of castles and medieval towns has earned it in some quarters the nickname of "Abruzzoshire", by analogy with the ""Chiantishire"" nickname sometimes used to refer to the Chianti area of Tuscany, but Abruzzo is still off the beaten path for most visitors to Italy. Abruzzo has ten villages (more than Tuscany!) that have been named as being among Italy’s most beautiful (I borghi piu belli d’Italia). There are thermal baths at nearby Caramanica Terme.
In Serramonacesca there is the famous San Liberatore Abbey and the ruined Castel Menardo as well as monuments such as the Tombe Rupestri, The Eremo of Saint Onofrio, La Torre de Pollegra and in the neighboring village of Manopello is the Church of the Volto Santo which was visited by The Pope. There are also two bars - why not stop in Fazio's bar, sit on the street with a drink in hand and feel yourself slip into a slower pace of life as you watch the world go by. In the village, there are two restaurants, two bars, two small general stores, a butcher’s and a pharmacy as well as a post office with an ATM machine.
And of course, no visit to Italy would be complete without sampling the fantastic food on offer. There are numerous excellent restaurants in the area including Agriturismos offering home cooked local produce. Abruzzo is known for its award-winning Montepulciano wine, pecorino cheese, honey, saffron and arrosticini (lamb kebabs). You can also try wine tasting at local vineyards.
Winter activities - Skiing
Many people are surprised to find that there is skiing this far South in Italy. Our house is, in fact, just 20 minutes drive from the small resort of Passo Lanciano. Skiing here is generally gentle through beech woods. Just an hour’s drive away, you will find numerous other larger resorts including Rocarasso. The highest point is 2,141 meters and with 156 kilometers of pistes of varying difficulty, there is something here for skiers of all abilities.
The region as a whole has 21 ski areas with 368 km. of runs. Located in the highest region of the Apennines, these ski areas are at heights nearly comparable to many Alpine resorts. Because of their proximity to the Adriatic and winter precipitation patterns, they often have more snow than the Alps. Abruzzo also is popular for cross-country skiing, especially on the high plain of Campo Imperatore in the Gran Sasso as well as the Piana Grande in the Majella. Lift passes tend to be cheaper than the Alps.
ONLY AVAILABLE AS RENTAL MONTH OF AUGUST AND OVER CHRISTMAS/NEW YEARS HOLIDAYS.
Swaps are possible all other months as available...but we must pass through our turnover charges for Point stays only - 100 Euro to be paid on site to the housekeeper.
Winter stays will also have a heating charge supplement that we will need to agree on.
Our housekeeper and friend, Nicoletta (who speaks English and Italian), will be happy to lead you on tours in the area or provide other extra services you may require or wish. Nicoletta is passionate about Abruzzo in general and Serramonacesca in particular. Serramonacesca is a place full of natural beauty and history. Our historical monuments include the castle ruins, a hermitage, the ancient Torre ruin & the amazing 1000-year-old San Liberatore church itself, all of which are right in our little town. Tour or other services can be arranged with Nicoletta directly and I will provide her contact details in the event you wish to hire her services.