Our lodge is called Otium – casadegliescursionisti. 

Otium, not negotium, is our philosophy.

We took inspiration from the “otium” of the ancient Romans, which does not mean idleness, but rather the care of ourselves and our own wisdom through spiritual contemplation and study.
Otium was the highest inspiration.
The Roman citizen, in fact, aspired to a pattern of existence that reconciled good reading, philosophical meditations, taste for art, physical exercise, social and convivial life.

And this is what you will find here.

We chose not to have wifi or televisions in the rooms. You will not find calendars or clocks in the lodge.
We want the time spent in the lodge to be unmeasurable and only belong to you. To facilitate social interactions, we also have many board games: the “old time” games.

We commit ourselves to provide silence, peace and harmony. You dedicate your time.

Our story

February 27, 2022. I met Roberto in Castrovalva, I didn’t know him personally but we had a close friend in common.

The reason why I proposed him to meet was that, after 21 years since I first went to Castrovalva and fell in love with the place, I decided to move there.

He didn’t have any available accommodations at that time as he was planning to move out from the house.
If I had liked the house, I could have take it.

When I arrived in Castrovalva it was snowing. Roberto was very nice and there was an instant good connection between us.

I stayed for lunch. The house was beautiful and I liked it, also Luna liked it, and she immediately sat in front of the fireplace. “We will enjoy the place” I thought.

Without thinking twice, I informed Roberto that I would take the house. And then the magic happened…

He turned to me and said “This house is ideal for you as a support for your work” and I replied”Work? I am just looking for a house in Castrovalva to move permanently”.

On hearing this, Roberto was surpised: “Then come with me, I want to show you something and make you a proposal.”

He took me to visit the most beautiful house in Castrovalva. “Every time I accompanied guests, it was a regular stop for me. From there you can see the most stunning view of Castrovalva. I also wished to live there and host people.”

But Roberto didn’t know this nor did he imagined it because I showed no emotion.

He told me “This is my property for now I don’t have the usufruct. Things are a bit complicated to explain. Anyway, would you like to convert it into a lodge and manage it?”

I thought I had never received a better proposal in my life. Every single cell in my body danced the samba. My heart was beating fast but Roberto didn’t know all this, nor did he imagine it because I remained still and said: “It is possible but take back the keys first.”

We said good bye each other. My life continued on its way without thinking even for a moment to that conversation.

A week later, Roberto called me back asking “Have you thought about the name of the lodge? On May 2, I take the keys back.”

And so it was. On May 3, Roberto finally returned to the house and I entered it for the first time.

From that moment we started to be very busy emptying the lodge, cleaning it, painting it, and furnishing it.

We managed to do everything in a few months also thanks to the support of the professionals who believed in our project and allowed us to complete the work in a short time.

The encounter with Francesco was decisive. He came to deliver some furniture and never left the lodge.

He also moved to Castrovalva and helped me to manage the lodge.

And finally in August 2022, after only 3 months, we started welcoming our first guests.

About us

OTIUM, the place where the soul of hikers merges with the unspoiled beauty of Abruzzo! If you are searching for a cozy and convenient lodge for your outdoor adventures, you are in the right place.

Vanessa Ponziani

My name is Vanessa and when people ask me where I am from, my answer is always “Abruzzo.” In fact, my love for my region makes it impossible for me to identify just with one place; although in February 2022 I have finally decided to move to Castrovalva.

Since I was a child, thanks to my family, I started to experience the mountains, the sea and all kinds of natural environments. Over the years, after courses, exams and tests, I turned my passions into a profession. In addition, the love for my region ispired me to share with other people those emotions that only certain places, situations and activities can give.
A degree in Biological Sciences and some more in-depth studies have helped me discover that walking a trail is like reading a book: each step is like turning a page, the nature that surrounds us is full of information, curiosity, and history; each element of the landscape has a meaning.

I was a hiking guide until 2022.

I now run the Otium-casadegliescursionisti lodge here in Castrovalva and am happy to share my knowledge with my guests. To anyone interested, I can create a program of activities to do and places to visit in Abruzzo staying at the refuge.

Experiencing “my” Abruzzo will be a great experience for you!

Francesco D'Amario

I am Francesco, kindness and politeness shape my personality. I love to spread good feeling to the people around me. Their smiles and satisfaction are food for my soul. I am eclectic and imaginative, if you have an idea I make it come true. I love to laugh and joke so that life stays always positive and bright. Since I was a child I dreamed of being able to live in freedom, and here at Otium-casadegliescursionisti I am achieving my dream.

I am here to fix when something breaks and to cook dishes to delight your palates. I hope Castrovalva will melt your hearts just like it has melted mine.


I am Luna, an adult Labrador. After a first year of great suffering, I met Vanessa and my life changed. She showed me the mountains and the freedom.

I love good food, actually I love food. I like to wander around in nature with my friends Vanessa and Francesco. I don’t like water, instead, I really like being in the sun.
My responsibility here at the lodge is to keep the Castrovalva cats at bay and prevent them from taking over the lodge. Also, I am in charge of giving out affection to the guests, possibly in exchange for food. But don’t let Francesco and Vanessa see you, they don’t want me to do it because they say I will get fat.