The hotel that tells the story of Abruzzo
Fabio Di Carlo
«We choose our clients with the aim of sharing with them an important mission: that of protecting our land.» These words were spoken by architect Laura Crognale, co-founder of the practice Archquadro Associati together with her colleague Dante Antonucci, and the land she refers to is Italy’s Abruzzo region. Since 2014 the two architects have been working in Lanciano, which Crognale describes as «a small suburban town», and have built up a strong reputation within the Italian and international design community. Right from the start of their careers, the young architects attracted attention for their sensibility in integrating the Abruzzo region’s distinctive characteristics into their work, from the area’s biodiversity to its traditional craftsmanship, from the natural beauty of the landscape to its rich cultural heritage.
«Architecture can make a real difference in discovering and redeveloping forgotten but resilient places,» adds Dante Antonucci, a point that is underscored by the practice’s recent project to restyle a 1960s hotel on the San Vito coast, just a few kilometres from Chieti.
«It was a challenging task, partly because of the poor state of repair of the building and partly due to the difficulty in modifying the structure,» Antonucci recalls. But although it was not possible to change the building’s original volume and layout, the architects succeeded in transforming its appearance through the use of finishes and interior design choices inspired by the Abruzzo region’s landscape, craftsmanship and cultural traditions.
The name chosen for the hotel — La Chiave dei Trabocchi — is itself a reference to the «trabocchi», the traditional fishing machines that dot the Abruzzo coastline like stilt structures jutting out over the sea.
The region’s distinctive colours, the quality of the light and the sea are powerful presences in the 49 rooms of the new hotel, as are the verses of a famous poet. «Few people know that Gabriele D’Annunzio stayed here, just a short walk from the hotel,» say the architects. «His poems describe this place, so we decided to commemorate the fact by inscribing them on the bedroom walls.» D’Annunzio spent the entire summer of 1899 in San Vito, in a small rural house overlooking the sea, and immediately fell in love with this timeless haven of peace, which he celebrated in his works.
But the Abruzzo landscape is also evoked through its craft traditions, such as wool production. The hotel’s interior is decorated with balls and woven threads of wool: they adorn the old chandeliers, grace the headboards of the beds, create tactile pictures and bring a sensation of warmth to the breakfast room.
And of course, there is also a reference to the early twentieth-century bathing establishments that made the Abruzzo coast famous for its elegance and style. The guest rooms feature a restyled white-and-blue striped motif, while the wooden pergola structures on the terraces are reminiscent of the canopies that once dotted the sun-drenched beaches like miniature works of architecture. But at the same time a contemporary element is present in the form of the matt resin effect ceramic tiles from the Elements Design collection by Ceramiche Keope, chosen in the colour White for all the guest room floors and the bathroom walls.
But it is on the top floor that the restyling project really enters into harmony with the landscape. Here, a penthouse suite occupies a volume of its own with ribbon glazing running around three sides, offering magnificent views of the Mediterranean landscape like translucent canvases.
The choice of materials also enhances the sense of luminosity, creating an almost ethereal space. The entire 45 square metre floor of the Penthouse Suite consists of white porcelain stoneware tiles with delicate streaks reminiscent of marble veining (the Elements Lux series from Ceramiche Keope). Thanks to its glossy, reflective surface, the large 60×120 cm size «magnifies the sense of space in the daytime/sleeping area, while in the bathroom it is even used to create furnishing units and volumes», note the architects.
The furniture is kept to a bare minimum. In place of wardrobes, there are simple hangers, while an alcove creates privacy for the sleeping area.
The intense white Mediterranean light models the interior space, bringing everything to life and creating a perfect colour balance.