Santo Stefano di Sessanio is in the province of L'Aquila in the region Abruzzo at 1250 m. above sea level. We are in the heart of the National Park of Abruzzi and Monti della Laga.
Getting there is quite simple. The village is half an hour away driving from L’Aquila and about one hour from Pescara and Rome.
It is part of the club of the " Most Beautiful Villages of Italy " but, in actual fact, someone called it one of the most beautiful villages on Earth.
As soon as you get in Santo Stefano di Sessanio you come across a so suggestive environment to make you forget present time. In Santo Stefano di Sessanio time has simply frozen. Everything is there today as in times past.
The first historical records of the tiny village are dated back to 760 but it is at the end of 15th centuries that in the village begins a strong pastoralism and transhumance development ( seasonal migration of herds). Santo Stefano di Sessanio was at its greatest splendor during the Medici family domination.
The village became the carfagna wool trade headquarter for the Florence Lords since this wool was produced at Santo Stefano di Sessanio, then worked in Florence and sold throughout Europe.
The noble Florentine family bequeathed to the village the beautiful limostone’s Medicean Tower that remained for centuries the symbol of the village and a city pride.
The Medicean Tower, now unfortunately partially destroyed by the earthquake of 2009, remains the core of the village. It is the starting point of the rows of houses, and narrow paths that develop along concentric circles. It is a succession of centuries old houses with their arcades, small windows and doors finely restored.
After the Medici Family domination we get to the Unification of Italy which marks, unfortunately, the beginning of the decline of the wool market, the end of the pastoralism and transhumance activity and the beginning of the depopulation of the village due to the phenomenon of emigration. It is probably because of this phenomenon that today we can enjoy a village that can be defined a true masterpiece.
In the early seventies the owners of the houses begun to restore the buildings trying to preserve as much as possible the original architecture. Everything is still in limestone, not only the exterior of the houses but sometimes even the interior.
Walking through the village everything evokes the past, the strength of the stone tells us stories of ancient pastors, cold, snow and transhumance. You can see the small doors and windows of the houses, so built to protect the house from the cold. Those building that once were stables, instead, have large doors to facilitate the entrance of the sheeps. Even the local artisanship is perfectly preserved and kept the same as in the past. The village is full of small groceries where you can also taste the typical local food and wine.
One of the most famous traditional food is the lentils of Santo Stefano di Sessanio still produced using traditional methods. No coincidence that one of the typical dishes of the village is the lentil soup served with croutons and a drizzle of olive oil. Absolutely not to be missed.
There are many tourist activities to which you can participate: Guided tours, Hikking and Trekking, Mountain Biking, Horse riding, food and wine tasting tours, cross country skiing, snow rackets trekking.
Nearby the village there are several equipped panoramic areas where you can enjoy stunning sceneries, a succession of mountains and fields that will give you moments of great serenity and relax.
It's the right destination for the tourist who is looking for the real Italy. It is suitable for a responsible and environment friendly tourism. It is a place of inspiration and silence where it is natural to speak softly not to break the magic.
However, walking through the narrow streets, you feel the strong ferment of new life and creativity coming from the children of those ancient emigrants who returned to the old country and today enchant the visitors with their discreet but strong love for this harsh and so beautiful land. That's why walking the streets of Santo Stefano di Sessanio today you can hear those whispers in English, German, French or Russian overlapping those in Italian mixed to the local dialect.
You cannot say that you have seen and know Italy without having been here.