Roccascalegna, a medieval hamlet in the central, wild Abruzzo region, is leasing its stunning fortress for weddings, cocktail parties, birthdays, anniversaries and other once-in-a-lifetime events for a giveaway price.
Mayor Domenico Giangiordano is hoping to use the recently refurbished castle to liven up his depopulating town and turn it into a €100-a-time (about R1 500) niche location for lavish celebrations.
“It’s a real low fee, practically a tip,” says Giangiordano, admiring the view stretching from the snowy peaks of the Apennine Mountains to the distant blue of the Adriatic sea. “Our goal isn’t to raise cash but to use this unique setting to revamp the local economy by luring an elite clientele who loves tiny, offbeat spots.”
Known as the Castle in the Sky, the 700-square-meter venue features a chapel for weddings, a tower to host evening cocktail bashes and former dungeons and torture rooms for candlelit dinners and business brunches.
What's the catch?
The overhanging castle can be reached by foot only, which makes the venue even more exclusive.
There are no roads leading there. Cars are parked at the entrance of the village and guests need to climb old donkey trails made of rough stones carved from the hill’s jagged rocks.
To facilitate access the mayor is offering to help as wedding planner.
A local grandmother makes traditional wedding cakes.
Silvia Marchetti's specialties on the party menu include pallotte cace e ova (meat balls with grated Pecorino sheep cheese and eggs), Pizza Scima, (a white wine and olive oil flat bread ), arrosticini lamb skewers, fiadone ricotta cheese pie and crespelle sweet-and-sour waffles.
She also makes traditional local wedding cakes such as taralli , huge sugar-powdered biscuits shaped like a princess crown that are gifted to the bride and guests.
Hike to the altar
A stone staircase is the only way to reach the castle and the hike to the castle can be tough and brides would struggle to make it to the altar in a long-train wedding gown.
Trekking or running shoes are highly recommended. Barefoot, even better. Even donkey hooves have been known to get stuck in between the rock steps.
“One couple couldn’t stop laughing,” says Marcello Giangiordano, the castle’s keeper and guide and no relation to the mayor. “The bride was wearing a long silk pink dress and peep-toe stilettos. The groom, barefoot, swept her up in his arms and carried her all the way up to the altar.”
The resident ghost
Naturally, the venue comes with its own guest. It’s said to be haunted by the headless ghost of Baron Corvo de Corvis, who enforced the evil medieval right of sleeping with all newlywed village girls until an angry husband stabbed him to death.
For centuries the baron’s bloody hand print stained the castle walls. His armor is on display, without its helmet.
“Ghostbusters have slept here: they heard the baron screaming, running around like a madman,” says Marcello.
Original story on Travel Wire News