If you are one of those travelers who long to get off the beaten track and really mean it, this is a most magnificent destination for you. Only 90 minutes from Rome and 7 km from [Aquila, nestled at the foot of Gran Sasso (one of Italy’s most spectacular peaks), and surrounded by an intricate Italian garden created in the 17th century, this fantastically ornate and painstakingly restored patrician villa offers a chance to actually live in a setting that could rival many world-class museums.
Although this region was hit by a devastating earthquake in April, 2009, the residents have mounted a magnificent rebuilding effort and Villa Dragonetti is unharmed and fully operational, and the area is pure unadulterated traditional Italian. No liollywood movie crews have come along and ‘beautified’ the crumbling facades of these local homes; no nouveau riche Milanese industrialists have attracted upscale boutiques and expensive restaurants to these winding alleys; no tour buses are lined up at these gates waiting while their flocks of tourists swoop through, take pictures, buy souvenirs and flutter away. No, the only people you are liable to see here are the residents whose families have lived here for centuries, perhaps in the very same house. These people are proud of their colorful customs, their delicious cooking (which has spawned a large portion of the world’s finest Italian chefs), their deep-seated traditions and their age-old lifestyle, perhaps deemed provincial and old-fashioned by some big city dwellers, but based on the solid foundations of friendship and kinship. If you truly want to see a part of Italy that has not been -globalized; this area is bound to fascinate you. What’s more, while you’re exploring the area you can take the rare opportunity to stay in a one-of-a-kind 16th-century aristocratic home.