Abruzzo is made of people that famously are considered very strong sometimes, forte e gentile. People are strong and kind, super easy, plain…super spontaneous kindness. It’s one of the few areas in Italy where in one hour, one and half hours, [you can be at] the mountains and the sea. So you have two completely different kinds of people – people that are stuck in between huge mountains like Gran Sasso (the highest mountains of the central of Italy where you ski 3,000 meters like in the Dolomite). People that live at sea are much more open because they see people coming back and forth, there are ports and blah-blah-blah. It’s not easy to understand this kind of place. In fact, [Abruzzo] is very mysterious, especially the area of L’Aquila where I was born. Actually, if you put [L’Aquila] map on top of the Jerusalem one, it’s exactly the same.
If you visit the city, it’s amazing, like the restoration after the earthquake are to die for. We have amazing arts, we have amazing food, amazing mountains and trails, and rivers. And we have an amazing sea at the end of the region, towards Puglia it’s kind of great where you have all this Trabocchi and Vasto.
According to scholars, L’Aquila was built to the plan of Jerusalem and its principal monuments follow the positioning of Aquila constellation. The city’s architectural history is said to be interwoven with Templar lore, magical numbers that always divine to the number 3, like the Fontana delle 99 cannelle (the fountain of 99 spouts). In 2009, l’Aquila was decimated by a devastating earthquake and ever since has been rebuilding, restructuring and flourishing.
I’m from L’Aquila, I’m from the mountains. The kind of landscape that we have there it’s my favorite landscape in the world. So wherever I go and I see low plains and big mountains, and like, raw nature, and wildflowers, and wild animals, it’s my dream. I prefer that kind of part of the region, but like, it’s really a blessing to live and have been born in a region where you actually can go to the sea in 1 hour and go skiing in 10 minutes because this is what we used to do. Every person from L’Aquila has a pair of skis in their car because if they want to go, they just go. My father was used to ski with his pair of jeans. When you ski and the sky is completely clear, you can actually see the Adriatic Sea while you’re skiing.
[Abruzzo] has so many things. You can find places where you have traces from the Paleolithic. Medieval era, in fact, my father family is from Santo Stefano di Sessanio. So I’m so lucky because I spent all my summers there with my cousins and with my grandparents. And I mean, it’s such a gift because it’s amazing. We would play nascondino [hide and seek] in Santo Stefano di Sessanio, the whole place, like 20 kids, like, amazing. And what I was saying, like, it’s so well-preserved. Like, that place it’s exactly the same from when it was…where it’s like actually built. So in 1400 there was this family, the Medici family from Tuscany. This is why Santo Stefano resembles a lot a Tuscan place which is…
The medieval village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, photo courtesy of Giada Mariani
Santo Stefano di Sessanio, a fortified medieval village 1,250 meters above sea level, within the beautiful Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga national park. Only 115, Santo Stefano di Sessanio is considered uno dei borghi più belli d’Italia (one of the prettiest ancient towns in Italy).
My father is super, super obsessed with these places. Santo Stefano is part of the Baronia di Carapelle which is made of other places like Santo Stefano, Castel del Monte, Carapelle, and some other too. And he’s trying to build back the Tratturi. Tratturi were the roads where the shepherds would walk with their sheeps from Abruzzo to Puglia. [These roads are] where the transumanza was actually taking place and it was fundamental for moving the wool from north to south. So you still see shepherds with sheeps there. And you see this huge low plain full of sheeps and full of cows.
The rawness of the place is really inspiring. For me, it’s always been super inspiring. I think it’s super inspiring for Gerardo [her husband and partner of Giuliva Heritage] too. It’s just unbelievable, because the sounds of nature and the mystery that this mountain gives to you, it’s like a dream. I got married there. I have been so lucky that my husband loves this place. We were married in the middle of nowhere there and it was just so blessing. To me, it’s the place where I’ll go if I’m super, super happy or super, super sad. It just clears my mind and makes me at ease with everything because it’s… [this] supernatural noise that you feel within you and it just settle syou. I’m really in love with this place. It’s a very romanced version, but maybe that’s why my friends call me the Ambassador of Campo Imperatore.