There are numerous historical, environmental and cultural attractions in this locality that will take one on a journey of discovery to a bygone world. At every turn, enchanted landscapes and fairy scenery will unfold just as if you had returned to the Middle Ages.
Medieval architecture in Santo Stefano di Sessanio
The first settlement in the area seems to date back to 1239 when the Convent of St. Vincent stood. Successive monastic orders gave a strong impetus to the agricultural and thus economic development of the area. The first fortifications were necessary in order to defend against outside attacks and to protect the fruit of hard work in the countryside. The Medici Tower dates back to the Medici settlement when Baron Piccolomini's daughter ceded the barony to the Medici, who ruled until the 1700s. During the 2009 earthquake, the tower collapsed, but painstaking reconstruction work, which lasted until 2021, restored its former charm.
Santo Stefano di Sessanio, as it appears today, developed around the 14th century, constituting the center of attraction for trade and exchanges with neighboring Apulia in medieval times. One of its many curiosities concerns its shape, as it resembles an eagle's nest lovingly enveloping the houses, attached to each other as if to clasp each other in an embrace. The hamlet can be accessed through the Porta Urbica.
Walking through the streets of Borgo Santo Stefano di Sessanio is like reliving its history, admiring ancient churches and noble palaces. The Medici Chapel is located in the square of the same name and its construction dates back to the 18th century presenting a single nave. On the high altar is a niche with a statue of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel. A little outside the village, near the cemetery, stands the Church of St. Stephen Martyr in which all the pomposity of the Baroque prevails but with medieval imprint. The altar of the saint, in fact, is decorated with stucco and sumptuous spandrels.
Nature envelops the village
Nature around Santo Stefano di Sessanio unfolds according to flourishing geometries. The surrounding vegetation gives that sense of peace and search for inner harmony. This is one of the reasons why lovers of peace and quiet come to this village among the most beautiful in Italy. There are many naturalistic sites as the locality lies right at the foot of the Gran Sasso. The mountains slope rapidly toward the plains in a palette of colors that are reflected in the small lake of Santo Stefano di Sessanio. Rivers, streams and other small bodies of water accompany hikes in the Gran Sasso Park. Contact with the elements of nature is unique and exclusive. There is no shortage of surprising encounters with local flora and fauna. The cat, wildcat, marten, beech marten, skunk and porcupine may cross the path of hikers walking through the woods.
The gastronomic treasures of Santo Stefano di Sessanio
Gastronomy could not miss among the search for the treasures of Santo Stefano di Sessanio. The village, thanks to its location, is still linked to ancient traditions in which the peasant culture knew how to make good use of the resources of this territory. The Santo Stefano di Sessanio lentil, for example, is a Slow Food Presidium. Crop plantings characterize the mountain terraces surrounding the village. Shepherding and animal husbandry give typical products such as lamb, sausage and salami, goat cheese and pecorino cheese. Some typical recipes to taste are sagnette with lamb sauce, curd, chickpea and chestnut soup, gnocchetti and fagioli poverelli.
Village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio
Municipality of Santo Stefano di Sessanio
Province of L'Aquila
Inhabitants: 116 stefanari
Altitude center: 1 251 m s.l.m.
the municipality is part of:
I Borghi più belli d'Italia
Protected natural areas:
Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga
Via Benedetta - 0862 89203
The Santo Stefano di Sessanio lentil is a Slow Food Presidium whose quality is guaranteed by an Association of
The lentil has found an ideal habitat on the mountain terraces surrounding the village, made up of long, harsh winters and
short, cool springs that initiate planting in March. Small, dark-colored, wrinkled-skinned and
thin, is rich in iron and so tender that it does not need soaking; it can be enjoyed in very simple soups that
enhance its aroma and taste, especially when accompanied by bread croutons and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
It is often offered with potatoes, volarelle (handmade pasta) or sausages.
This is not just any lentil but a precise biotype selected in this area since time immemorial. Suffice it
think that the cultivation of legumes, and in particular lentils, in this area of L'Aquila is already mentioned in
monastic documents from the year 998.
Poor mountain (limestone) soils are perfect for lentils, which do not even require much fertilization.
Instead, they become challenging legumes at harvest time, which occurs between the end of July and the end of August.
Lentils mature in a scalar fashion and also at different times, depending on the altitude of the field.
Sometimes 15 days elapse between mowing, almost always by hand, and threshing: the mowed seedlings, if left in the
field - first accumulated in small sheaves and then piled under the protection of a tarp - still nourish the seeds
bringing them to maturity.
It is often not possible to use the combine harvester because the fields are in inaccessible areas but especially because the legumes
develop close to the ground, and with mechanized harvesting, losses could reach 30-40 percent of the crop.
In short, harvesting still takes place as it did a thousand years ago and is very tiring.
The Lentil Harvest ends with the Festival that every have, on the first weekend of September, celebrates it in all its