Castello di Postignano: A Restored 9th-Century Italian Village to a Diffused Hotel and Fine Umbrian Restaurants

Once upon a time, the medieval village of Castello di Postignano was a bustling small town amidst the hilly green woods of Umbria. But from the time it was founded between the 9th to 10th centuries, it experienced its ups and downs as wars ensued, the economy flourished, the population decreased due to emigration, earthquakes destroyed it and sadly, a complete abandonment of the town in the 1960s. Through hardship and success, it had a long history to recount through its walls and narrow cobbled-streets. Its last inhabitants and their descendants share fond memories in the beautiful village of Castello di Postignano. And after more than a decade of restoration, the old town stands up once again to a resplendent modern beauty of medieval atmosphere, this time as a luxury "albergo diffuso" or diffused hotel with twenty two suites and two fine Umbrian restaurants directed by a Michelin-starred chef.

History of Castello di Postignano
Castello di Postignano was founded between the 9th and 10th centuries along the road that connected Spoleto, Foligno, Norcia and Assisi. It has a triangular shape with the watchtower at the top and walls surrounding the houses built on the slope of a hill. The Castle, contested by Foligno and Spoleto, took part in the wars between Guelphs and Ghibellines. Between the 14th and 15th centuries, the village had a thriving economy based on agriculture, forestry, iron and hemp crafts. From the 16th century, its population began to decrease and during the 1900s there was a consistent emigration of its inhabitants. In the 1960s, only six families remained in the town and continued to resist from moving away. However, in 1966, following a small subsidence of the land, the mayor of the town issued a full evacuation order and closed the town for good. This abandonment caused a progressive deterioration of the village which was even aggravated by the 1997 earthquake.

The Restoration
It all started with the determination of Gennaro Matacena and Matteo Scaramella, two Italian architects who were enchanted by the abandoned and isolated town of Castello di Postignano. In the early 1990s, the two architects and their firm took a highly unusual step when they bought the entire village of Castello di Postignano. Indeed, it was a colossal ambition to restore a whole town. When their restoration project was approved by the Umbrian authorities, reality took shape. Their objective was not only to restore the village but to bring back life the territory again.

In 1992, the project started the legal procurement of all structures by tracing the legitimate owners of the houses, who by that time were scattered not only in Umbria and throughout Italy but also in other countries. After three years of planning, and when they were finally going through the restoration works for three months in 1997, an earthquake damaged Castello di Postignano further and they had to stop the works for ten years. Finally, in 2007, work recommenced. Modernized underneath the ground with plumbing. fiber optics and electric cables, and importantly, the entire town has been rebuilt in compliance with the latest anti-seismic measures and all the streets have been isolated so that rainwater does not penetrate and cause damage. In the year 2014, the entire restoration project was completed. Every single detail has been thought of, keeping in mind the correct choice of materials in the precision of the restoration project. Every old brick was placed in the walls, floors and the streets. Children also pitched in by painting the skirting boards, saving the adults from the backbreaking job.

The Birth of the Modern Castello di Postignano
Defined as a modern miracle, and complimented personally by the then President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano, Castello di Postignano has surpassed much more than everyone's expectations. It is a masterpiece of excellent restoration of medieval architectural and to this, UNESCO sent an official note describing the project as something that "effectively interprets the values of UNESCO relating to the protection of the landscape and the environment".

Castello di Postignano is an open village that can be accessed mainly (and less exhaustingly) by an elevator from the parking lot in the lower ground to the upper ground of the hotel's reception. The idea is to rebuild the town and hand it over to the territory where people can start living again. About sixty apartments were restored in which some were sold to private European and Italian buyers who made their houses as their main or holiday homes. A diffused hotel was made out of some of the apartments, meaning there are twenty suites of varying sizes, some studios, some with bedrooms, some with balconies and some without. They are all equipped with modern amenities like TV, wi-fi, mini fridge, coffee maker and electric kettle. There is a heated swimming pool and an outdoor jacuzzi that overlook the village and the green valley surrounding it. There is also a library full of books, a billiard room, a bar, a simple restaurant that serves traditional Umbrian dishes and a 12-seat restaurant that serves elaborate modern dishes, both directed by a Michelin-starred chef, Vincenzo Guarino. It is a luxury hotel without the unnecessary frills, but with the modern comfort that every guest wants in a place of peaceful ambience where the key activity is to relax within the confines of nature or explore the area.

Chef Vincenzo Guarino Guides The Two Restaurants: Trattoria La Casa Rosa and La Tavola Rossa

Like any typical town, it needs restaurants to highlight the Umbrian cuisine using quality local raw materials. At Castello di Postignano, two were opened: Trattoria La Casa Rosa where the kitchen is traditional with a dining environment typical of a casual-elegant trattoria; and La Tavola Rossa, a particular set-up of 12 seats in a chef's sharing table in a dining excavated in stone. Both restaurants are directed by Chef Vincenzo Guarino, a holder of Michelin stars in his previous restaurants. The concept of both places is based on three key principles: simplicity; local and fresh ingredients; and attention to detail.

Chef Vincenzo Guarino

Born in Vico Equense at the peninsula of Sorrento, Vincenzo had a big thirst for learning attested by years of studying and gaining experience. His growth path was influenced by chefs like Nazzareno Menchini of the Grand Hotel Quisisana in Capri and with the consultancy of Gualtiero Marchesi, Peter Wiss of the Gstand Palace Hotel, Frèdy Girardet, Davide Oldani, the Roca brothers with whom he shares that desire for Mediterranean style that is often present in his dishes. He was able to fuse other cuisines and cultures from his experiences in China and in the United Arab Emirates. From this long path, he was able to refine his techniques, relate to small and large brigades and adapt the speed of execution. Now he find him in the kitchens of Castello di Postignano, the greenest heart of Italy, wherein he recounts a story of this side of Italy with his incredible talent and techniques.


Trattoria La Casa Rosa

Wood beams and ceiling and a fireplace create a warm environment for the two dining rooms of Trattoria La Casa Rosa. Here, the kitchen breathes the simplicity of Umbrian and Mediterranean cuisines with a slight creative touch of the chef. One thing is certain: the chef uses raw materials procured from local producers who are focused on quality, some, like the roveja, an ancient legume that grows in the territory. Open for lunch and dinner where you can also get gourmet pizza, locally produced cheese and cured meat. The wine list is extensive which highlights the region's finest producers.

La Tavola Rossa
A cooking academy during the day and a fine dining chef's table at night in an ancient stone-excavated room equipped with modern technology. These are the two suits of La Tavola Rossa. During the day, Chef Vincenzo Guarino hosts culinary students, both amateurs and professionals in various cooking classes at the daytime environment of Academy Tavola Rossa wherein the large central table becomes a fully-functional kitchen with drawers and equipment utilized for the school. Professional courses vary between 2 to 4 days while amateur courses last between 3 and 6 hours.

At night time, the table changes its "outfit" and turns into a 12-seat chef's sharing table where the chef and his assistant finalizes the dishes for the 12 dinner guests that have been prepared by the other chefs in the main kitchen. The dinner experience at La Tavola Rossa actually starts at the Vini & Oli wine bar a few steps away wherein the chef presents a number of finger food paired with a bottle of sparkling wine from the cellar. After the aperitif, the 7-course dinner at La Tavola Rossa is realized the whole time with the chef and his assistant explaining the dishes with wine pairing by the sommelier. To conclude the night, everyone is invited to stay further with the chef at the adjacent lounge with distilled spirits and after dinner sweet bites.

Castello di Postignano

Address: Località Postignano, 21 – 06030 Sellano (PG), Italy
Tel: +39 0743 788911

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