The date is Saturday 13th July 2013 and I’m having a coffee as Siouxsie and the Banshee’s play Voodoo Dolly, from Juju, one of my favourite SatB albums, as I sit and enjoy my hit of caffeine I reflect upon the previous night and my invitation to attend the open evening at the Hotel Vittoria in Palombaro.
I think it’s important to support local businesses so whenever possible I buy locally, I’ve previously mentioned before that I frequent the same baker and fruit shop rather than use the supermarkets, I favour our local independent supermercato, Scriz over the multi-national one nearby. So when I heard a few weeks back that the closed and shuttered, Hotel Vittoria was about to have some life breathed into it again, curiosity took over and I had to have a nose around. I was granted a tour of the then unopened hotel by enthusiastic entrepreneur, Pat Sanders who has leased the building and pretty quickly I see it’s not a job for the faint-hearted. On first impressions I’m taken aback by the sheer size of it, Palombaro is a mountain town in the Chieti region of Abruzzo, approximately two and a half hours drive east from Rome. The town has everything you’d expect, winding alleyways, narrow vinco’s, breath taking views down over the countryside and local flavour. Opposite the main church is a popular bar where the town’s population drop by for a coffee and an update on the local gossip: no need for local newspaper’s in Italy. There’s a smattering of local shops selling everything from pasta to plastic buckets and salami to soap powder, making it a self-contained community.
I’m shown first into the reception area, it’s been tastefully redesigned, a bright, welcoming space which leads into a small dining room with views out over the valley, down to lake Casoli. A beautifully, decorated day room for residents, with comfortable sofas is situated opposite the dining room entrance with a corridor leading to the bedrooms on the right and to a small intimate bar to the left. Just off the bar is the door to the hotel’s first of two kitchens and further on is a staircase leading down to the ground floor. I descend and am shown into an enormous open space, “This is the function room,” Pat says. It’s a huge space, easily adaptable for conferences, performances and social gatherings. This floor has another kitchen, a cooking space of gargantuan proportions with everything required to prepare future banquets. A door leads outside to a pool area and terraces for the relaxation of future guests.
The upper floor houses bedrooms ranging from singles, to doubles and twins; some even have shared balconies so that families and friends can book next door to each other and share the same private outdoor space. From this high up it would be impossible to be unimpressed with the views, to the east is the valleys that roll down towards the Adriatic coast a mere thirty-five minutes away by car. To the south-east is the medieval mountain town of Casoli, overlooked by its fortified castle and just south-west is the friendly mountain town of Fara San Martino, which boasts spectacular mountain treks and views that even the greatest of cameras could never replicate.
The opening party on Friday evening is blessed with good weather and people arrive suitably relaxed as the car-park fills up with cars, registration plates indicate a mix of owners, Italian, English, a Dutch and a German car slot in between a couple of Fiats. The opening is well attended by over two-hundred guests, all eager to have a look around and see what changes have been made during the hotel’s dormancy. A three-piece band play in the corner of the function room with a double bass slapping and keeping time. A dressed table becomes a makeshift bar, complete with barman serving glasses of prosecco and local montepulciano d’abruzzo and opposite people fill their plates with the buffet spread out courtesy of local restaurant, Dal Pagano. Everyone is clearly enjoying themselves, and I suspect Pat feels the evening has been a success.
I hope this venture is as successful as the first evening, there’s been a tremendous amount of work gone into getting the hotel ready, with many people giving their time up for free to get it ready for this Friday evening. Anyone looking for a hotel in the area can do so by contacting Pat at the hotel website: Click this link to go to Hotel Vittoria