What We Love
- On-site two-Michelin-star restaurant, Il Reale
- Off-the-grid location near Abruzzo National Park
- Designer rooms with gigantic egg-shaped tubs and balconies
What To Know
- There are only six guestrooms
- The region is rugged and mountainous and doesn't see a lot of tourists; great for off-the-beaten-path adventurers, but there's no party scene
- The restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
Italy’s Abruzzo region is famed for its ethereal light, and the sunshine isn’t wasted at Casadonna Reale, a 1,500-year-old hillside monastery turned boutique retreat, where glass doors and giant windows drench public spaces in golden light from dawn to dusk. Staying true to its humble roots, it maintains a super-minimalist white-on-white design, with interior spaces mostly devoid of furniture; a blank canvas vibe presides throughout.
Bed and Bath
There are just six guestrooms, all of which are austere, mostly white, and stripped of all but necessary furnishings, letting the light flood in through giant windows. Rooms feature unique touches such as giant egg-shaped tubs for soaking in the bedroom, and modern black and white bathrooms with sexy walk-in showers. Just because the room looks stark, however, doesn’t mean the luxe factor is compromised. Beds are dressed in high-quality sheets and feather-soft duvets. Expansive patios or balconies are top spots for sipping wine and watching the sun sink over the horizon.
Casadonna Reale is essentially a restaurant with rooms. Niko Romito’s two-Michelin-star restaurant, Il Reale, serves artful interpretations of regional specialties such as glazed veal with field vegetables and smoked pork tortilla. The decor is sparse here, too, which puts the focus firmly on the dramatic presentation of the dishes. A lovely garden surrounds the hotel — the perfect place to unwind in a lounge chair or indulge in a picnic. Conveniently, the on-site shop, Bottega di Niko, stocks excellent local products including honey, cheese and sausage.
In the Area
Abruzzo is one of Italy’s lesser-known regions, despite being just a two hour drive from Rome. There are three national parks within a 120-mile radius: Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Parco Nazionale della Majella and Parco Gran Sasso and Monti Della. In winter there are two nearby ski resorts to choose from, Roccaraso-Aremogna (seven miles away) and Rivisondoli–Monte Pratello (nine miles), which offer cross-country as well as downhill skiing.
How to Get There
Spent 2 days in Castel Di Sangro, in particular, to dine at Casadonna Reale. We both work in Manhattan and have dined at just about every Michelin starred restaurant in the city over the years. Reale was truly an exception, possibly the best meal we have ever experienced. We had the 11 course Ideale chef tasting menu for lunch on Saturday, along with the house vineyard's spetacular vino bianco, Pecorino. The restaurant is magical; simple, elegant place settings, minimalist, with all the focus on the food, detailed explanaitons of each course, in English. The view from the dining area over Castel Di Sangro was spectacular. Once in a lifetime experience, if you are a foodie, not to be missed. We will be back to stay at the Casadonna. Ciao!
I had read and told me a lot about Niko Romito and his food and life philosophy, and I thought I already knew everything. But when I went to Casadonna I realized that I knew nothing. This 16th century monastery is a contemporary temptation. Essential and rich, emotional and reflective, immediate and studied, just like Niko's dishes. The best cabbage of my life, a place with a great soul. Thanks Niko, thanks Cristiana.
Stayed at Casadonna coz wisely decided not to drive after the 14 course tasting menu with wine pairings. For once I had to switch to Waze coz Google map sent me to the wrong place up on a hill also with narrow roads with tons of potholes that turned out to be jogging /biking paths. Even though this is in a 16th century monastery, the room was modern with dual hamman showers for couples, the architecture and decor in the public areas were beautiful, it looked like it was straight out of a Wallpaper magazine. I thought my room (room 4) was very basic (ie bedsheets super wrinkled like my room back in college) and didn’t look as chic as in the official photos, really just ok because of the fantastic meal, the view was beautiful though.
Even though I had to leave early and couldn’t stay around for breakfast, the fantastic staff packed me a huge bag of pastries for my morning drive to the next town. In sum, would definitely stay here because of the superb meal at Reale and the drive to get here was lovely too.