After I found my way uphill and parked the car under the glittering silvery green roof of olive trees (note: they take also care for a car’s soul given this maybe most beautiful parking spot a car can ever wish for) I went uphill to search for the reception desk. A nice lady greeted me, seated me in a little very stylish welcome lobby and served me caffè and orange juice (freshly squeezed by the way). Yes, there were enough rooms available, because they’d just opened the season end of March. After I finished my drinks, she led me through the huge terrace and through a little gate into the abbey’s cloister. We walked upstairs to the first floor and in one of the rooms we passed she made the incidential remark that this would be the reading room. Reading room!!! How could one concentrate reading a book if one sits in this room (photo 5) with all this furniture around?? We finally arrived at my room and I couldn’t help but gasp in amazement – this room was the most perfect room I ever saw to stay and sleep at far away from home (but on the other hand… where is home?).
The rooms are nothing else but the former abbey cells with most of their former features like the old terracotta stones on the floor, the wooden ceilings, in-built shelves and fireplaces still in place. The hotel’s leaflet writes that every room is different. Mine had this magnificent shelf built into the thick stone walls with partly wooden and partly stone files. A little candle here, a little pot with dried flowers there, some vases, some books – as if the former inhabitant only left his room for a prayer in the church. Opposite on the wall was the fireplace, also built into the thick stone walls. The former entry was modified to a closet now, the outer door of course locked forever. A little desk and chair completed the spare but very efficient and plain beautiful interior.
The bathroom was restored in the same concept: the old floor stones still there, and the modern amenities (shower, sink, toilet and bidet) only built into the stone walls.
Unique Quality: Unique quality? Everything was unique quality here. I spend some time walking around the stone stairs and took some photos. But given the lack of sun, they are quite darkish. For better photos, please check the hotel’s website.
In the evening, after a splendid dinner in Il Cantico just below the hotel, I stood for a long time and watched the night through my window and was wondering if the monks might have appreciated this location as much as I (and certainly the other guests as well) did. But then, a monk’s life is spiritual, and I cannot imagine a better place that has spiritualiy written in big letters all around. Despite it was cold and rainy, I slept with open windows and could smell the fragrance of wet grass in the morning when the “sun” (ok, not sun but daylight) woke me up. Yes, that’s something I did – let the light wake me up and not the alarm clock. In this environment I didn’t dare to make noise or let my mobile phone do it. Sounds stupid? Maybe....not.
Breakfast was served downstairs in the former refectory and consisted in a huge selection of what is typical for the region: wild boar sausage (most probably from Norcia), goat cheese, self-made jam, yoghurt, fresh fruit, cereals, croissants and fresh bread, cakes and tartes and a selection of coffee, caffè or tea.
In my room was a little leaflet with information about the wellness and beauty treatments they offer. On the website is more information about this part of their service. They also have a sauna in the basement.
For my one night including breakfast I paid 90 €. That’s more than I would normally spent, and this abbey would also not be my usual choice. But given this location, it was worth every penny.
Would I recommend it? Yes, very much so!!
Would I stay here again? Yes, very much so, but then a bit later with hopefully better weather. I’d bring tons of books and would sit in the garden forever and read……
Directions: Valnerina, SS209. This is the street parallel to the highway from Assisi to Terni (exit Spoleto). It's 3 km north of Ferentillo. Be careful, the sign leading uphill is small.
Coordinates on GoogleEarth: