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Casperia: B&B La Torretta

via Mazzini 7, Phone: 0765.63202

Reviewed by: Ann A from USA, review #3285

When: January 2013

La Torretta Historical B & B is a serene & tranquil getaway & the village of Casperia, yet so near to Rome, can transport you to a time of simplicity & peace.

Street in Casperia, photo by Ann Adler

Having arrived in Rome after a transatlantic flight from the states, on a cool winter's afternoon, I took the train directly from the airport to the Poggio Mirteto rail station, which is just north of Rome, where I was greeted by Roberto Scheda, host of the La Torretta B & B.

While Roberto drove the 10 minute ride from the rail station to his home, in the village of Casperia, he described the origins of the area, the history of the Sabines, the ancient peoples who inhabited this area of central Italy and some of the relationships the Romans had with the Sabines.

Though my description does not begin to capture the essence of the village, Casperia is a walled, vehicle free, hilltop, medieval village. Just imagine my surprise when Roberto escorted me into the village through one of only two arched stone entry ways, Porta Roma, so named as this doorway faces Rome. Roberto pointed out the medieval ironwork at the sides of the entry way that were hinges that once held the doors to the village, which were, during medieval times, closed each night to ensure the safety of the villagers.

Roberto and I walked up the serpentine pathway to the Scheda home. As the sun was setting, I immediately became aware of the twinkling lights of the villages near and far and the sweet smell of wood burning. The serenity of the village made me feel at peace. This was the beginning of my Slow Travel experience.

Roberto's wife Maureen and he have restored their 15th century home into a lovely and charming B & B. While it is just a stone's through from Rome, it feels as if I had arrived in Camelot. When we arrived at the La Torretta, we were greeted by Maureen, the fire place roaring, and an inviting atmosphere.

After a restful night, in a room that was cozy, clean, well heated, had a comfortable bed, plenty of fluffy towels and was attended to with great detail, I had the pleasure of meeting Maureen and Roberto's daughter Jennifer, who prepared a wonderful breakfast for me. I felt as if I were a princess, living in my own enchanting palace. I was transported into an era that has long been forgotten.

Maureen and Roberto are so lovely, welcomed me into their home, their warmth and hospitality is enough to win anyone's heart. La Torretta is an exceptional historic home and a wonderful B & B; with Rome so near, La Torretta is the perfect location to retreat after a day of touring, whether it be in the city or in the wonderful hidden secrets of the surrounding Sabine hillside.

I highly recommend La Torretta and its wonderful hosts, Maureen and Roberto. It is a B & B with charm, history and beauty.

Reviewed by: Muse4Life from UK, review #2739

When: October 2009

Set in the dramatic and beautiful Sabina, La Torretta provides a welcome and welcoming respite from life in Rome's fast lane. Life's too short to rush!

One and a half million imaginary miles from Rome lies the dreaming village of Casperia. Those miles, of course ARE only imaginary. In fact it’s only about 45 really...it just appears that way, for here is a little bit of peace and quiet far, far removed from Via del Corso.

Communications with Rome are actually very good. For some inexplicable reason whichever government body oversees Italian train travel made a good move when they connected the local station directly with Ostiense/Pyramide in Rome and a regular service runs throughout the day. Perhaps even more importantly, the train actually runs right back to FCO, so it’s possible even to arrive or depart straight from the airport. But back to the important stuff...

Defying time and {it sometimes appears} gravity, little seems to have changed here since the original building and shaping of the community in medieval times. And, roughly halfway up the historic edifice of this timeless and graceful sweep of buildings, is La Torretta, almost perfectly poised...high enough to command a simply beautiful view and yet low enough to make the inevitable walk to and from its hallowed portals an undaunting task. Any review is by its very nature both a personal reflection and an objective opinion, so I hope the reader will pardon any hyperbole. I must admit that I was taken...very taken indeed...by our all too brief stay. Two nights probably isn’t enough.

Let’s put this into some kind of perspective, for it’s an obvious thing that any such opinions are shaped and informed by the contrasts between state of mind and body on arrival. Shell-shocked and footsore from 10 days of pounding the streets of Rome {along with 8 hours at Ostia Antica, 7 hours on the Palatine and Forum, 5 and a half hours worth of the Appian Way and out to Tivoli for a somewhat disappointing trip to Villa Adriana} we arrived at La Torretta. It was sort of like slamming the brakes on during a high speed chase. Life in the fast lane suddenly transfigured into a countryside amble. It was, of course, our own choice.

A choice which was both fortunate and equable and, in the enduring way of things, I fell in love. How could it be any other way? Rome is, after all, a wonderful, vibrant city with a past to be borne in mind that is long enough to ensure that its denizens as well as its streets have a sophistication which is sometimes hidden but always there, even if it’s under the surface. Casperia, too, has a long history, but where Rome is neon Casperia is candle light. In Rome you’re never too far away from the next traffic accident or near-miss {probably involving your own body, which is never a good thing}, while Casperia presents, despite its sometimes baffling maze of alleyways, a simpler, more down-home feel and the cats have little to worry about other than where the next mouse is coming from. Rome has its views, but you need to climb the Pincio or Janiculum to really see them properly.

From the simple vantage point of La Torretta’s balcony you get a vista that is bold, rural, heart-stoppingly green and sweeping and that just goes on for miles and miles...And that’s just the valley. To watch sunset over the Sabina, the mountains taking on a misty mantle as they recede into the encroaching dimming of the day is something to be neither taken lightly or forgotten easily. Similarly, first thing in the morning as the sun is in the childhood of its transit, the same view is a gilded, priceless opportunity to realize that dreams aren’t just something that happen while you’re asleep.

For my own part neither morning I was there could I raise any interest in breakfast – the magnificent landscape negated the imperative for anything other than the feast laid out for the eyes. Coffee was just, somehow, more than enough.

Rooms. Only saw our own bedroom, but it was spacious, beautifully appointed and comfortable. The natural focus of any day, though, is the upstairs living space, divided into indoor and outdoor areas. Meals can be taken either in or out and the whole space is light, airy and exactly what is needed on any day which can be described even charitably as “pleasant”. The outdoor space is the balcony I have previously referred to, but it’s much more than just a balcony...viewing platform, eating area, a place to relax with a beer or a bottle or a good cigar it is a good and natural place to feel at one with your surroundings and either plan your day or reflect on it.

There is a communal sitting room {that’s the one with the frescoed walls} which, once again, is spacious, comfortable and has a good stock of books on virtually any subject you care to name, displayed in what I thought were rather gorgeously decorated book cases. Actually the decoration showed me exactly what I wanted to do with my own, so I need to thank Maureen and Roberto even for that.

So far I haven’t, apart from in the last passage, mentioned the hosts, and I should do so here before I get too carried away.

Maureen is a lovely lady of Welsh origins. And although she speaks Italian like a native she hasn’t forgotten her roots. Skilled in many areas other than the linguistic – and it seems a touch pointless to go into them here because other reviewers have detailed them in much better terms than I could manage – she welcomes her guests in just the right way – I don’t know if it’s intuitive or simply that I’m exactly the correct type of visitor.

But settling your incoming clients in – “come in, come upstairs to the balcony...sit down, yes, it IS a wonderful view...would you like a beer?” before the formalities of passports and signing things and doing all that stuff that reminds you that, after all, you’re just another tourist is just right up my particular alley and made me feel very much at home.

Hotels sort of HAVE to work that way. But life in the villages – at least life in the villages of the Sabina – is a long way removed from the hurley burley of Usual Commercial Practice. You get to catch your breath right from the word “Go”. I’d like to say “Thanks” to Maureen again here. The introduction was absolutely perfect.

Roberto is an architect and there are examples of his draughtsmanship carefully placed around the frescoed walls of La Torretta. No stiff commercial type, though, it’s just as likely he’s up or down the cobbled streets on his 4 wheeled motorcycle, carting some grateful guest’s luggage around. His passion is ancient Rome and, had we been there longer, I’d have loved to have had a chance to chat with him about that because it’s an interest we share. Next time, I hope.

Jennifer is the smiling, happy one in the kitchen in the mornings. That I wasn’t more interested in the work she was doing is no reflection on her culinary skills, which appear to be considerable...there was just too much going on outside, and it was that I happened to be hungry for. The fritas looked wonderful. But the pull of the view was just too much.

Kathleen I didn’t see at all. I guess she was halfway up a sheer rock face at the time. That’s her bag, and I know that she’s accomplished as both climber and instructor. Eating is, of course, a major part of any day in Italy and it’s a pity I can’t comment much on the local fare other than to mention that once darkness had fallen and those wonderful Sabine vistas were, for now, a thing to be locked away in the memory, we made our way to L’Asprese, the al forno Pizzeria you can see to the left just down the hill as you look over La Torretta’s balcony. A busy place, much busier than I would perhaps have expected to find in quiet Casperia. But the atmosphere – one of, it appears, youthful enthusiasm – is catching, and the service was extremely quick. I, of course, disgraced myself with the errant foreigner’s trick of ordering espresso before eating, which confused things greatly. I can’t help my strange ways, but I really ought to learn my lessons. The pizzas were good, the coffee great {if premature!}. Apart from that we were taken up with other things which meant that we were away from the village, spending time with a great friend and his family so had no opportunity to explore Casperia’s other attractions. Not a thing to be regretted, for we had a wonderful time, and there’s always the future. Friend’s Bar looks exactly like its name would suggest and the Blue Bar is the natural meeting point for almost any kind of off-site venture.

We found La Torretta to be the perfect specific for Roman adventures. Much as we love Rome we just can’t damn well stop when we’re there. It’s not the Italian way, I know, to be in such a dash. But for the culture hungry visitor to Rome there’s too much to see to spend that much time just relaxing. Bolting a few days in Casperia onto the end of our holiday gave us the chance to wind down {and, surprisingly - for me, at least – that process began immediately. And the result was a much richer overall experience} in a space which was very different.

La Torretta offers many opportunities as a holiday destination in its own right – the cookery courses, the day trips to Rome and the climbing...or simply walking in the beautiful countryside of the Sabina. But it was as a place to recover from the rigorous necessities of Roman life for a couple of days that we will remember it with warmth and affection. We’ll revisit it, certainly. As a soft landing after a turbulent ride through Rome it couldn’t have been a better choice.

For the interested, here are the room rates; Single room with private bathroom € 60 per night Double room with private bathroom €80 to 90 per night Triple room 95 euro per night Family suite, which comprises 2 adjacent double rooms with one bathroom € 140 per night, which means that the prices, looking down this page, have remained unchanged since at least 2005.

Reviewed by: madonna del piatto from italy, review #1589

When: end August 2006

A romantic B&B in a wonderful romantic location

the reading room with some of the amazing chairs, photo by madonna del piatto

Everything is beautiful here. The intricate beamed ceilings, the ancient terracotta floors, the amazing collection of designer chairs, the views of verdant hills from the sun lounge. Maureen and Roberto – who has designed the chairs- have made a tremendous job at restoring this 500 years old noble house in the centre of Casperia. The six bedrooms B&B has everything one would wish for a visit of this adorable village perched on the hills of Sabina, in Northern Lazio only 45 min. from Rome: Homemade pies and soft classical music for breakfast, comfortable and sunny rooms with view of the picture perfect alleys of Casperia, heaps of information on what to see and do in this splendid little corner of Central Italy. Should one be on the way to another destination, B&B La Torretta makes also an ideal stop-over out of Rome airport, conveniently close to the A1 highway. We were here for a too brief visit, but I can see myself spending a string of lazy days here, enjoying the scenery, the olive groves, the transparent sunsets, some hiking, some good rustic meals and the warm hospitality of the very kind owners. We'll be back!

Reviewed by: Wendy Ashworth from U K, review #1058

When: June 2005

An ideal long week end destination to relax and revive you in a warm and welcoming hilltown.

We were greeted warmly by Maureen - who runs La Torretta with help from her husband Roberto - and one of her daughters, Jennifer. We had left our luggage in the hire car in the town car park as it is not possible for cars to enter the town. Fortunately, Roberto brings guests' luggage up using 4 wheel drive quad-bike, an essential and welcome service.

We were shown to our room which was large, very light and nicely appointed. The view from the windows was enchanting over to the mountains and rooftops of Casperia. Our ensuite shower room was thoughtfully appointed with a good shower nice towels, excellent lighting and an abundance of hot water. The toiletries were pretty and good to use. All the rooms open off the guests' sitting room where there is an abundance of reading materials, tourist information and a very thoughtful touch in the form of a fridge where you help yourself to beer, water or soft drinks all modestly priced. Pay Jenny when you check out. There is also a kettle and coffee and tea and biscuits on the same system. This sitting room is gorgeous, with ancient frescoes and a huge fireplace.

Breakfast is served on the top floor in the family kitchen/dining room or out on the large balcony. We were surprised at the quantity and quality of breakfast items, yoghurts, cereals, fruit, cold meats, cheeses, breads, delicious honeys and jams all locally and organically produced, fruit juice tea, coffee, hot chocolate.

On the first evening Jenny cooked a lovely meal for us both, once again using local organic ingredients. We had four courses with wine and couldn't have been more pleased. Jenny is an excellent cook and if you choose to go to La Torretta I hope you will be able to enjoy one of her evening meals. This service is offered about once a week and cost us 50 euros in total.

We thoroughly enjoyed our 4 nights at La Torretta. Casperia is very peaceful, particularly after visiting Rome, so we slept well in our very comfortable bed. Rooms are serviced daily but cleaned every other day. Attention to detail is obvious throughout this establishment and the atmosphere is friendly and laid back.

Roberto is an architect and this is obvious both in the renovation and furnishings of La Torretta. There are antiques but also many lovely modern pieces designed by Roberto, who has a wonderful way of interpreting chair design!! All the hosts are generous with their time and will help you find your way to your day's destination or put together an itinerary for you. Maureen was a tour guide for many years so she is particularly knowledgeable.

Casperia itself is a gem and we spent a very happy day exploring the little town and neighbouring area. There were celebrations for the end of the school year and we were delighted to be shown around the town by school children. We saw many secrets including the village crib which is truly charming.

We visited Farfa Abbey and found it to be delightful. We bumped into Jamie Oliver who was filming his latest series for British Televison so that added an unexpected dimension!

There are a couple of eating places in Casperia that are ok but no more than that. Regrettably one of the better establishments has been temporarily closed because of building works so the town will be grateful when it reopens. It is owned by Johnny Madge and his business partner. He is a sculptor but we met him at an olive oil tasting session and then again at La Torretta's party to announce that their new vacation rental is finished!

This will be an ideal accommodation for Slow Travellers. It is a modern village house, recently converted by Roberto with many of his wonderful trademarks, including beautiful ash doors and several quirky pieces of furniture. It sits at the foot of the town and offers a large beautiful double bedroom with an ensuite bathroom complete with bath. There is another double bedroom with a smaller ensuite shower room that is completely private so two couples would be very comfortable here. The large sitting room and integral kitchen areas are lovely, light and airy with good furniture and a chef's kitchen. There are generous terraces on several levels. Maureen hopes to launch this property next year.

La Torretta is a gem and at a charge of 90 euros per room a night, it may appeal to the budget conscious traveller, who wants to use one of the many cheap flight options into Ciampino. It makes an ideal year round destination, as a day trip into Rome via train from nearby Poggio Mirteto takes about an hour but, it is probaly easier to drive in at the week end and park near the Villa Borghese. The lakes of Lazio are easily reached from Casperia as are Viterbo with its ancient palaces and buildings, the delightful towns of Bolsena, Capo di Monte and Montefiascione home of the famous Est Est Est wine. Villas Lante and Farnese are within reach as well Tivoli and all it has to offer.

There are 6 bedrooms at La Torretta, 5 with ensuite bathrooms and one with a private bathroom which makes an ideal family suite with the adjacent double/twin room. One has a bath as well as a shower.

All in all an exemplary B and B, I hope you will get the opportunity to try it out but bear in mind that parking has to be outside the village and that there are steps to climb to reach La Torretta. The villagers are friendly and genuinely pleased to welcome vistors but this doesn't feel like a tourist town.

La Torretta can offer cookery courses and adventure holidays so check out their web site for details.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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