intoHistory, geschiedenis beleven in authentieke logies
The Castello Chiola is a stopover not to be missed during your stay in the Abruzzi region. Just halt in front of its impressive facade and you will be convinced. In the old days you had to receive a personal invitation from the Count of Loreto to have the pleasure of staying there. Today, such a privilege is within your grasp …
The Castello Chiola crossed many different time eras and underwent important events during its long history. Here are some milestones in its venerable existence:
Italian manuscript of the King of Naples (c) Leiden University
The area has been occupied since very ancient times by the Etruscans and Romans, who cultivated the olive tree. Several remains of occupation have been found on the bedrock of Loreto Aprutino.
The first stronghold dates back to 887. The German Emperor Charles II the Bald (grandson of Charlemagne) is said to have stayed in it during his Italian campaign to fight the Saracens.
The castle played an important role in the feudal era, a time when alliances between lords and vassals tied and untied for the price of bloody battles. The lords of Loreto, which oath to the King of Naples, support the construction of churches and the installation of prosperous abbeys.
In the 13th century, the Earl Landolfo d’Aquino stays at the castle of Loreto when his son, the future St. Thomas Aquinas, performs there his first miracle.
The Earls of Loreto will continue to play an important role in Italy during the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, especially for their military victories (Italian Wars).
It is at the castle that the important county business (political, legal and military) was settled, in a feudal tradition that lasted until the late 18th century.
In 1796, the French revolutionary armies are waging war on Austria to the heart of Italy, under the command of General Bonaparte. The castle of Loreto is conquered, and then requisitioned by the occupying forces. The French will be dislodged a few years later by the Loretans in revolt.
Risorgimento (Baldassare Verazzi)
It will be used as a rallying point for the Italian revolutionaries in the early 19th century, hoping to get rid of the Austrian ruling and unify Italy.
Abandoned, the castle will be exposed to looting and bad weather until it was purchased in 1870 by the Chiola family (which still owns it today).
The Castello Chiola will be restored on several occasions, especially after the damage caused by an air raid in 1944.
St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas Aquinas, who’s father Landolfo d’Aquino was Earl of Loreto, stayed at the castle when he was young (early 13th century). The legend reports it was there that he did his first miracle.
Following various testimonies, Tommaso used to fill his apron with food to distribute secretly to the poor people of the county. One day, he got grasped by his father and a servant on the draw-bridge while going out of the castle. They asked him to open his pinafore and to show them its content. Tommaso only answered: “These are only roses for the poor“. A bunch of little roses then fell on the ground when the servant opened the apron.
This miracle is reported in a very old picture of the parish church.
The Castello Chiola offers a magnificent Renaissance appearance from the outside, with its high brick walls (though reduced in height in the 18th century, after the removing of the battlements and the crenellations), some of them measuring several meters thick.
The interiors are very spacious, between 30 and 100 m2, without mentioning the large barrel-vaulted entrance hall. The rooms on the ground floor are organized around massive pillars, which support elegant curved vaults.
Restoration works undertaken since the late 19th century respect the initial volumes and their light brick siding (in some areas). Other rooms have been carefully (re)plastered, but most of the old decor has vanished. In accordance to the taste of the epoch, the stairwell and many interiors have been redesigned with neo-Gothic lines.
(c) Castello Chiola
Works of art and period furniture adorn the public spaces, Roman sculptures, Baroque mirrors and consoles, family portraits, assortments of guns and swords, side by side with recent pictorial works by local artists.
Other renovations were carried out since – including the one that followed the Second World War and the transformation of the castle into a luxury hotel, under the leadership of the Intendance of Fine Arts and with the support of the European Community.
Have a look at our article “Turning a medieval stronghold into a 4-star hotel?” to seize a bit of the amazing atmosphere of the place.
On the highest hill of the medieval town of Loreto Aprutino, in the prestigious Via Aquino, stands the Castello Chiola. A strategic place that as in the past, represents a privileged position, giving not just a pretty view of the noble Via del Baio, at the end of which stands the Church of St. Peter the Apostle with the remains of the Patron Saint Zopito, but it also represents a true crossroads to visit numerous districts.
The perfect place to discover the beauty and resources of the country: the national monument Santa Maria in Piano Church, the historic center with its alleys and narrow streets, with many churches and the remarkable Museum of ceramics from Castelli, the Antiquarian and the Oil Museum located in the ancient Castle Amorotti and the regional Oleoteca both symbols of the excellent production of extra virgin olive oil.
The name of Loreto Aprutino is well known in Italy and abroad for its undisputed quality, everywhere recognized and DOP olive oil, wine and culinary tradition.
Around the area of Castello Chiola many typical villages arise where you can found delicacies and fine craftworks: starting from the Pecorino cheese of Farindola, to the Abruzzo ceramics of Castelli, the artistic production of copper of Guardiagrele and confetti of Sulmona.
Pescara, on the coast, former stop on the route of the Orient Express London-Bombay, is worth a visit, as well as the old city of Chieti and its beautiful churches and theater. Do not miss the Cerrano Tower, close to the shore.
To soak up the period atmosphere of the Castello Chiola, might we suggest you add a fourth dimension to your stay by a little reading (there’s nothing better than a good historical novel to bring age-old surroundings to life). And why not let your imagination be captivated by a film, or by listening to some choice pieces of music – all great ways of travelling back in time… A few suggestions:
Books to be devoured in situ
Film to be watched before arriving
Period music to be enjoyed on location
Étonnante nuit au Castello Chiola, nuit de tempête et de neige, au creux de la basse saison, dans cette immense bâtisse conçue pour défier les millénaires... Rarement logé dans une chambre aussi grande, aussi haute de plafond, mélange de sobriété médiévale et de raffinement italien.
On sent que les lieux ont été spécialement aménagés pour accueillir des mariages, réceptions, spectacles et autres séminaires d'entreprise, mais l'hôte individuel bénéficie de toute l'intimité nécessaire, puisque chaque chambre dispose de son salon privé.
Cuisine de grande qualité, riche et créative, parfumée avec une huile d'olive (du cru) qu'on boirait à la bouteille et des truffes qui distillent leur saveur précieuse des jours durant dans la bouche.
Une découverte : le vin de la maison, un Montepulciano d'Abruzzo aux effluves de sirop de figues, tout simplement céleste !
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Hotel Castello Chiola ****
Via degli Aquino, 12
I-65014 LORETO APRUTINO – PESCARA (Italy)
+39 085 8290690
Castello Chiola’s own website
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