An hour north of Rome, the medieval, pedestrian village of Casperia sits happily atop a hill as it has for 1,000 years. To get the full flavor of the place, I stayed at “La Torretta”, a 15th century palazzo lovingly restored by Maureen Jennifer and Roberto Scheda.
Leaving my car outside the village walls, I wound my way up steep and curving streets on foot.
Past charming door fronts…
To the elegant entrance of La Torretta…
In sharp contrast to the chaos of Rome, an hour away, the only sounds as I walked through Casperia were the calls of swallows and my sandals slapping on the cobblestones.
When owners Maureen (above) and her husband, Roberto, an architect from Rome, arrived in Casperia with two small children in the seventies, they left Roberto’s secure career and modern life behind.
Roberto began building wooden furniture by hand and Maureen learned how to spin, dye and weave sheep’s wool on a loom to make clothes for the children. They were inspired by Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian who outlined biodynamic farming in the 1920s and explained how it was both a practical and spiritual choice.
“We were children of the sixties,” Maureen said, “who wanted to live simply, authentically and holistically.” Then, she added, “The people of the village thought we were crazy.” When their third child was born, money got tight. Roberto went back to work as an architect, and Maureen began commuting to Rome to be an English-speaking tour guide. But these two pioneers didn’t give up on their dreams.
Twenty years ago, they bought the palazzo with the idea of giving guests a chance to in Maureen’s words, “experience real Italian life instead of just being tourists.”
Their restoration work uncovered frescoes in the main living room.
Where guests can sit cozily by the fire to read books from their library about art, architecture, history, travel, food, wine and culture.
Upstairs, a sunny, modern kitchen and dining area are filled with light.
And the modern, wooden chairs that Roberto has made (each with its own name).
There is an adjacent terrace with splendid views over the pristine valley below. (Maureen led other villagers in a fight to kept the forest protected.)
Sit here for a morning cup of coffee or a glass of wine at aperitivo time and soak in the silence, the peace and the untouched beauty of this place.
Maureen can recommend activities, guides, cooking classes, massages and private yoga classes. La Torretta is truly a place to relax, get off the beaten track and enjoy “authentic Italy”.
There are seven rooms, each with a private bath, decorated simply.
All have views out over the valley.
Via Mazzini 7