Epic formula to recharge your batteries: Crete Gialle

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

My first experience ever of the ranch Crete Gialle (Via Parasacchi 4, Cervaro (FR), Italy)  was years ago. It was a cold, wintery night. We had found this very nice farm house on the net as we wanted to spend the New Years eve in Italy. Of course, us being us, we got lost in what looked at night like a countryside labyrinth. Lights in the distance guided us to the restaurant and clubhouse. It was warm and cozy. Inside the warmth from the fireplace lured us in, paired with the most delicious scents ever coming from the kitchen. It was love at first smell… sight! Sight! I meant to say sight!

Crete Gialle is family run business owned by Fernando L’Arco, a real horse whisperer, his wife Patrizia and their adorable little girl, Gaia. It is situate in a luscious valley not far from the Mounts Simbruini Regional Park, where they filmed one of the most iconic spaghetti westerns Lo chiamavano Trinità (They call me Trinity, 1970) with Terence Hill and Bud Spencer.
It isn’t really difficult to reach the place once you’ve seen it in the daylight: it’s just a a couple of miles from the highway. It has private parking and is very, very quiet. If you are planning to spend a few days in Rome, you can definitely make Crete Gialle an interesting day trip (especially if you’re renting a car)! To be honest, since it felt like being a family guest, I was actually a bit awkward when it cames to the tipping etiquette we use in Italy!

The building where the guest rooms are was an old barn. They have 3 rooms. One is cozy and makes you feel like being in a very ancient cave (for the romantic couples), another one is for 2-3 people and it has a really country feel, while the other can accomodate up to 5 people. It’s really what feels like a little private two story house with two bathrooms and wooden floors. A few steps away there’s a beautiful lawn. In the Summer there are couches there so you can drink your coffee or have a little snack relaxing in the sun. When it’s colder Patrizia decorates the small trees with tiny candles hanging from white ribbons and fireflies make this place absolutely magic.

The Crete Gialle restaurant looks like a ranch. Wood everywhere, saddles, a cozy fireplace, the chance to eat in the Summer on a platform overlooking the valley, there’s even an old buggy outside! They cook delicious food: you don’t feel at a restaurant, but at grandma’s house. Breakfast treats you with homemade cakes with fresh fruit, or pies, freshly baked cookies, pastries, homemade jam, cappuccino, juice and coffee. Anything you need to start a brand new day in the countryside! We experienced lunch in the house and outside, as some kind of cowboy camping in the fields not far from the stables. Their most ordered and most amazing dish is a huge Chianina steak served on a burning hot soapstone warmed up in the oven for hours. They serve it with crunchy rosemary potatoes or fresh mushrooms, or, when the season is right, with arugula and salt. Every foodie in love with Italian food should eat here. So I’ll let a few pictures show it for me. They can cook also pizza and focaccia into a wooden oven!

The walk to the stables is very relaxing and fresh during the Summer because there are lovely trees shading the path. Fernando and Patrizia love animals and they take care of a few abandoned dogs who will accompany you to see the horses. They are a lovely bunch who like to meet new people and have finally known the warmth of a house thanks to their saviors. When you get to the “real” farm it almost feels like you’re in another age. Sheeps, goats, a few chickens. And a roaming pony. Yes, Milingo is the mascotte: nobody gets to ride the wild and funny black pony with the big belly! He walks around making new friends and can go wherever he wants. Someone says he’s in love with Lynnys, the beautiful Appaloosa who doesn’t really return his love but it’s all hush-hush.
Here you can’t see any building aside from the stables and the covered paddock. An amazing valley full of flowers, olive trees and scented herbs welcomes the riders who book a session with Fernando. They don’t have many horses but all of them are members of the family. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone as in love with them as Fernando L’Arco. He is a certified Fitrec Ante trainer and guide who often guides small groups of enthusiasts on trips (even week-long ones!) around Italy… of course on horseback! Fernando also guides the horseback trip on the Gustav Line.
People feel naturally drawn to him. He is a real force of nature, able to reassure those who are scared of horse, a patient teacher for every horse lover. His horse family is well behaved. Fernando teaches a more “natural” approach to the animals. You pet them, talk to them, spend some time to get to know each one of them, Lynnys, Cheyenne, Shilla, Eragon and all the others. Only when you are familiar with your chosen horse you get to ride him. Horse trekking in this valley and up the Mounts Simbruini is an adventurous and unforgettable experience. First of all, the scent. You are on horseback and get to smell all these medical herbs, flowers, hay and fruits. The horse will safely lead you up on the mountains, through the bushes, the rocks and the countryside where olive trees grow. Up, almost on the top, you will see buzzards and, turning your hear the other side, tiny villages clinging to the mountain. In the evening, with all the lights on, it feels almost surreal.
I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like Crete Gialle. Maybe in the States it’s common to lodge into a family owed ranch but in Italy? Not so much, especially not in the South. Yet it’s not just business. You become part of the family, there. They welcome you with open arms, introduce you to their daughter, take care of every need. To be honest I’m never happy to leave this peaceful bubble and that’s why not only I go there often, but I also bring along friends.
I discovered I’m not the only one who loves to feel pampered like this!

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