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A Romantic Weekend at Castello Chiola

Abruzzo is a region of Italy I’ve wanted to visit long before we moved to Italy. I read the book Italian Lessons by Peter Pezzelli years ago and part of the book is set in the mountains of Abruzzo. Pezzelli’s descriptions about this beautiful region lured me in and I definitely wasn’t disappointed on our recent visit – Abruzzo was as picturesque as I imagined it would be. The Abruzzo region is mainly mountainous and wild land, dotted with ancient hilltop villages. We only had a long weekend to explore – too short, really – and we called Castello Chiola, perched atop arguably one of the most beautiful villages of Abruzzo, home during our stay.

Loreto Aprutino

Loreto Aprutino at sunset

Abruzzo is located in central Italy, just 50 kilometers from Rome, and our drive there had taken along the Adriatic Coast through Emilia Romanga and Marche before finally entering Abruzzo. As we drove inland from the sea, a Medieval village rose up before us on the winding road. Colorful houses seemed to tumble down one side of the hill, olive groves down the other, and a castle was the crowning jewel. We stopped to take some photos and then realized a few minutes later that the hilltop castle was our final destination.

Castello Chiola sits on the highest hill of Loreto Aprutino with enchanting 360° panoramic views. From our hilltop vantage point, we could see all the way to the sea on one side and the Apennine Mountains on the other.

Castello Chiola

Castello Chiola

Now a 4 start hotel, Castello Chiola has a long and somewhat mysterious history. The castle was rebuilt atop another ancient castle dating from around 864. The current castle is believed to have been erected sometime in the 11th century and to have belonged to Lombard and Frederick II. It was an aristocratic residence under D’Aquino, Gamba, Casamarte and D’Avalos families throughout the 13th century. Castello Chiola has been a haven for warriors, nobles, and emperors and it even suffered an aerial bombardment on the 13th and 14th of January 1944. It came into the hands of the Chiola family in 1870 and they themselves lived there until 1995.

Castello Chiola

Emma settling into our suite at Castello Chiola

Castello Chiola

Sunset over the pool at Castello Chiola

The castle has 36 guest rooms and our room was extremely spacious with high ceilings. A lovely breakfast is set up each morning with a variety of pastries, fresh fruit, and meats and cheeses. The castle also has a restaurant, though a wedding was taking place during our stay, so we didn’t get to experience dinner in the castle. But what a gorgeous setting for a wedding! There is also a seasonal pool with a fantastic view overlooking the town and hills below. Best of all, the castle is dog friendly!

Loreto Aprutino

Loreto Aprutino

A lively festival with the town people singing

Loreto Aprutino

A quiet section of Loreto Aprutino

Loreto Aprutino itself is lovely. We loved strolling the winding Medieval streets in the evening time. The town is world famous for its olive oil production and there is an Olive Oil Museum set in a renovated old oil mill from the 1880s. There are also several other municipal museums to visit.

Convivio Girasole

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine, a selection of chilis and oil, homemade gnocchi with wild boar and mushrooms, and lamb with sweet pepper marmelade

We recommend a meal at Convivio Girasole. The restaurant is just a few minutes walk from Castello Chiola and you’ll be served with a variety of olive oils with chilis to spread on bread. The menu features homemade pastas with fresh local ingredients, like the mushrooms that were in season during our visit. Be sure to pair your meal with a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo red wine.

Castello Chiola and Loreto Aprutino were a fantastic base for our stay in the Abruzzo region. We were easily able to visit both the beaches of Pescara and the beautiful lakes in the mountains. We’ll definitely be back because those mountains are calling to us for some hiking and perhaps a visit to Europe’s southernmost glacier.

Know Before You Go

  • Castello Chiola offers very affordable luxury with double rooms starting at $125 per night and suites starting at $175 per night. Breakfast is included and there is free parking on site.
  • The Olive Oil Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday in summer from June 16 – September 15 from 9:30am – 12:30pm and 5 – 7pm; open the rest of the year Saturdays and Sundays only from 9:30am – 12:30pm and 3:30 – 5:30pm. Entrance is €6 for adults and €3 for children 8 – 14 years of age. Children under 8 are free.

Thank you to Castello Chiola for hosting us during our stay in Loreto Aprutino. As always, all opinions are entirely our own. 

Jennifer Dombrowski

Jennifer Dombrowski is a location independent globe trotter who is based in Prata di Pordenone, Italy. She works as a social media and communications strategist and is an award-winning travel writer. She is also a travel correspondent on Traveling on the American Forces Radio Network. Jdomb's Travels was named one of the top travel blogs to watch by the Huffington Post and has been featured by top publications such as CNN, Buzzfeed , and The Telegraph. Her iPhoneograpy has also been featured on publications such as USA Today and Travel + Leisure. Google+

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17 comments

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  1. Devlin @ Marginal Boundaries

    Looks like such a beautiful town, I often wonder if people who are raised in such picturesque places truly appreciate it or are they just apathetic to the beauty around them.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    You pose an excellent question. I find that the Italians are aware of the beauty around them. They are generally very proud of their picturesque towns.

    [Reply]

  2. Ali

    Looks like a great place to stay! I’d like to get to Abruzzo someday because my Italian ancestors on my dad’s side are from a teeny tiny town in that region. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to the exact town because it’s so remote and has a population of less than 300, but it would be nice to see the area.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    It is a harder region to travel in because you really do need a car to get around and reach the little villages. Hope you make it some day! It would be really great to see where your family comes from.

    [Reply]

  3. Cheryl Howard

    Wow, looks like a lovely place to visit … but alas, as is anywhere in Italy. :)

    [Reply]

    Derek Reply:

    HAHAHA I completely agree Cheryl…with both those statements ;)

    [Reply]

    Cheryl Howard Reply:

    I miss Italy! Can’t wait to get back and most of all experience the food. So yummy.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    The food is very yummy!

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Ironically I wanted to move to Italy because I fell in love with Rome. But now that I’ve been living here for a few years, it’s the small villages like this one that always end up being my favorite places.

    [Reply]

  4. Freya Renders

    Such a lovely place to stay! Love the colors of the houses and the cobblestone streets. I wish I were back in Italy.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    The castle was a fantastic place to stay! I loved the location and well, that it is a castle.

    [Reply]

  5. Cathy Sweeney

    You’ve convinced me to put Abruzzo a little higher on my long list of places in Italy I want to visit. Castello Chiola and the village look perfect for a romantic stay. And if Emma liked it — all the better. :)

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    I think you’d really enjoy visiting all the villages of Abruzzo, Cathy!

    [Reply]

  6. Heather

    I’ve always wanted to stay in a castle! I love that they let you bring your dog :-)

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    There are quite a few castle hotels that are dog friendly. This was not Emma’s first time staying in a castle. I really should do a round up of our favorite castle hotels in Italy.

    [Reply]

  7. Stef

    This looks like a beautiful place, I get so many bucket list ideas when reading your blog :)

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    Thanks Stef! Glad to hear it!

    [Reply]

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