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A rural hilltop idyll, surrounded by the magic of nature, ancient history and a calming spirituality, Il Cannito, a former Franciscan monastery near Paestum in Italy, weaves a special kind of ambience. Its deep presence is tangible here – a sense of times past is palpable, and its restoration story no less remarkable.
Enter the gorgeous Gorga family, a convivial Italian family with hospitality at their core. It was patriarch Luigi Gorga who discovered the land, more than forty years ago. His daughter, Antonella remembers seeing the site for the first time and describes it beautifully.
“I was 14 when I first saw this corner of unspoiled nature and I immediately felt a great energy given by mother nature.”
Antonella and her two sisters, Santa and Nicola all felt the same radiance, and it was the family’s desire to share their special corner that propelled them to create Il Cannito in Italy’s wilderness.
The natural paradise was clear to see, yet there was also work to do. The Franciscan monastery needed preservation, and the abundance of nature needed artfully taming, without losing any of its magical atmosphere and biodiversity. But it took the right kind of characters to handle this project correctly and thankfully the Gorga’s had such respect for the land and its existing buildings that the end result allows us to see their dedication to preservation and its benefits in today’s world.
But to do that, they needed to look to the past. An archaeologist friend was able to shed light on the building’s previous incarnation. The monastery was inhabited by east Greek monks from the 12th century who celebrated their rites here in this celestial corner, after which it became home to Cilentan peasants.
When the Gorga’s came to the land, the building was in severe disrepair and a difficult restoration began, with the challenges of working on a hilltop very prominent alongside the complication of reconstructing the bio architecture of Il Cannito.
However, there were moments of satisfaction and elation, like the recovery of every limestone, smoothed and drawn by the wind, and the surprising discovery of a 600-year-old oak, part of a catalogue of centenary trees from Campania. The family were also very rigorous in ensuring that every element, down to each tree and stone were preserved in the best and most authentic way they could.
Every restoration story needs a friend or two and thankfully, Il Cannito had Master Pietro Lista, a great Italian artist whose works are exhibited in every corner of Il Cannito, and supported the family through this great adventure.
The end result is sublime, and the family’s hard work in keeping its vital energy intact makes the place what it is today. In Antonella’s words it is “full of energy, which recharges you and reconnects you with your soul. Here you can feel like a child and where you can discover a corner of paradise full of natural, archaeological and artistic resources, where you can live authentic experiences.”
We couldn’t put it better ourselves.