Arpino situated in the province of Frosinone, in the Latin Valley region of Lazio in central Italy is a well-kept secret. An enchanting town just one and a half hours from Rome by car or two and a half hours by train is a refuge from the arid scorching heat of Rome. A simple journey’s excursion from the hectic, hot and bustling City of Rome to the ancient civilization of Arpino, where Roman remains are testimony to gateways and watch towers, nestled up in lush green flora mountains, winding along the Roman roads Via Latina and Via dell’Aquila Romana. National parks spread across plains of dramatic and hilly terrain where Abruzzo National Park prominently holds its pride and joy in the Abruzzo-Lazio border.
Once home to Roman nobility, Arpino (formerly Arpinium) was the seat of the powerful and affluently impressive families, Colonna and Boncompagni, part of the Kingdom of Naples.
Known for its mix of culturally rich history and culinary welfare, derived from seasonal produce cultivated from the crops of the surrounding mountains, it’s no wonder that the chic Roman families (a cachet of the La Dolce Vita set), flock to their holiday homes, reminiscent of pretty candy coloured villas fluorescently speckled like confetti lie amongst the green backdrop hillside within the vast region. Pruned and ripened harvests flourish against emerald green mountains and cool waterfalls, 1,476 feet above sea level. It’s a sanctuary of calm and cool sophistication, away from the hubbub of Rome and a relaxing refuge and substitute for casual, but refined living.
Medieval boroughs could not be so evident in this historically rich province near Frosinone where Arpino is located. An ideal place to retreat and feed your belly and inspire your soul. The famous Italian Mannerist painter, Giuseppe Cesari known as ‘Cavaliere d’Arpino’ was famed for his iconic works and as such, created Cavaliere di Cristo by his patron Pope Clement VIII. The abundance of beauty cannot be more exemplified than visiting the Hotel Il Cavalier d’Arpino in Via Vittoria Colonna, a quiet location easy to approach by taking the Ferentino exit on the A1 Motorway, directly linked to the ‘Ferentino-Sora’ motorway, which will take you to Arpino.
Once a wool factory, the area was typical for its wool manufacturing and the quarrying of coloured marble. Hotel Il Cavalier D’Arpino dates back to the 16th century with medieval influences characterised by the remains of the imposing cyclopean walls of the Volscian period, restored and added to in Samnite, Roman, and medieval times, surrounding the town. This charming and pretty hotel is family run, the special personal qualities that are instilled within the character of the hotel are an abundance of feminine touches throughout, providing comfort, solitude and warmth with a team of staff committed to ensure that every stay is unique and magical. The impressive medieval arches and remains with heavy granite and stone staircases offer robust castle-like accommodation with tapestries draped in the dining rooms, combined with contemporary interiors and gardens stretching to flowerbeds and the sweet smells of blossom and nectar.
The hotel is cosy boasting only 28 rooms with windows panning across panoramic views. Refrain from taking the lift, whilst walking to each floor, little characteristic features of days gone by are exhibited. Baskets of flowers, a sewing machine perched in a corner and knick knacks all constitute for a touch of eccentricity, but a small library and sofa style seating within the third-floor lounge, serve hot beverages, biscuits and a few snacks to offer a leisurely slumber with a good book.
Il Cavalier d’Arpino is a boutique style hotel in size and personality, equipped with the latest complimentary Wi-Fi, air conditioning and all mod cons. It is simple, yet luxurious, devoid of intrusive rules and conducive to bask in the temperature and tone of the region. A healthy and generous buffet breakfast includes fresh fruit, freshly baked cakes and pastries, cereals and seasonal produce to equip oneself for a day on foot visiting the various excursions including the iconic Abbey in Montecassino or wander in the panoramic gardens and valleys with a fresh walk to the waterfall of Isola del Liri.
Dinner is not included precisely for the reason that there is so much choice in the region and the proximity is rich in tantalising tastes with a selection of excellent wines to devour in the nearby Piazza Municipio and nearby boroughs. Fresh ricotta cheese, Pecorino and local dishes of goat meat basked in wine and herbs or fresh lamb are succulent and tender, whilst the local pork sausage seasoned with orange rind and spices are typical culinary favourites matched perfectly with the much talked about ‘Maturano’ local wine, deep almost orange wine like sunset, derived from the chameleonic ‘maturano’ grape native to the Comino Valley in Lazio.
The owners at Il Cavalier d’Arpino speak perfect English and achieve the impossible in delivering almost concierge type services in recommending everything from rural enriching expeditions to an organic wine farm, oil mill or horse riding to managing a wedding or event effortlessly. With such precision and attention to detail, each stay promises to be unique and trouble free – within the spirit of the Roman Gods.
Hotel Il Cavalier d’Arpino, Via Vittoria Colonna, 21 03033 Arpino, Italy.
Tel: + 39 0 776 849348
Arpino is located in the hills between Rome and Naples in the Lazio Region of Italy. The closest airport is Rome, which is about an hour and a half drive.
Type of Hotel: 3-Star Boutique Hotel
Number of Rooms: 28 rooms
Price Band: Medium with rooms starting from £73 per room, per night in high season, it’s good value for sophisticated living.
Insider Tip: Ask for a room on the top floor at the front to see the stunning views across the Latin Valley high in the hills from your window.
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10
Aurelia Bonito is London-based a freelance travel writer and marketing consultant.
Photographs by Aurelia Bonito