In Labro, “Living the Story of a Culture”

January 18, 2016 / Places
Labro, Lazio

“I think of an albergo diffuso as a novel that tells the story of a culture. Guests are brought into the story temporarily so they can better understand the way of life,” clarifies Giancarlo dall’Ara, creator of the revolutionary concept of hotel hospitality, l’albergo diffuso. (Roughly “decentralized hotel” – ed.)

We truly entered into the culture, the history, today’s daily life in the minuscule medieval Lazio village, Labro, while staying at Palazzo Crispolti albergo diffuso, thanks to the Belgian owner/architect team, Ivan Van Mossevelde and his wife, Anne van Ruymbeke who lovingly transformed the crumbling ruins of this abandoned medieval hilltop village into tasteful, welcoming lodgings for visitors.

LABRO - charm
Anne welcomes
Breakfast room

At age seventy-five, architect Ivan still has his creative hands on architectural projects both in Italy and in Belgium and so Anne runs their albergo diffuso, Palazzo Crispolti – two suites, two apartments and three double rooms – in two village building, salvaged and meticulously restored according to albergo diffuso guidelines: maximum respect for the environment, preservation of the characteristics of the past structure through salvaging existing buildings, and re-animating the social fabric through involvement of the locals. The albergo diffuso philosophy centers on saving the borghi (small hamlets) from widespread abandonment as young people tend now to move away, opting for urban lifestyles.


And the next morning, the view from our room spotlighted the splendor of this albergo diffuso’s location: a majestic sweep of burnished forested hills rolls right down to the shores of the Lake Piediluco. Knowing Pino was a builder and keenly interested in architectural restoration and preservation, Anne and her husband Ivan joined us for the breakfast Belgian assistant Gaelle had prepared – in the beautifully-restored medieval kitchen. Before Ivan’s arrival, Anne shared with us the stories of their discovery of Labro and the arduous restoration years. Over caffe’, Pino and Ivan talked at length about restoration norms and goals here in Italy, in Belgium and then they guided us through the village, showing us the other buildings in Labro belonging to their albergo diffuso.

P in backstreets
Labro entryway
Pino at breakfast
Pino and Ivan chat

Our tour ended on the balcony of the apartment called “La Casa dell’Architetto,” as it had once been their own home. Ivan dubbed the balcony, “the balcony with the most beautiful view in all of central Italy.” He might be right.

(Click here to read about another magical albergo diffuso – in Abruzzo. A list of alberghi diffusi here and some general info here.)

Balcony splendor
Balcony and Lake Piediluca

Window view, another one

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See for more on her Umbria tours. Do see for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

19 Responses to “In Labro, “Living the Story of a Culture””

  1. Carol Weed lundin

    You’ve done it again, Anne, planted that seed of curiosity with your great descriptions. This time it’s Labro!

  2. J. Kevin Crocker

    Yes Anne, another wonderful insight into Italy and the wonderful small villages which abound. I love reading of your explorations. – Kevin

  3. Sandra Spector

    thanks for another great story Annie. See you in the USA next month

  4. Another wonderful exploration! First I’ve ever heard of albergo diffuso…thanks for the introduction.

  5. Mary Ellen Gadski

    Thanks so much for posting the link to the albergo diffuso in Abruzzo, which will be a strong incentive to return to that area. The potential for such alberghi in Abruzzo is very high!

  6. Rosemary Johnson

    Great story! I learn so much about Italy’s villages, every time you post! Hope 2016 is off to a great start.

  7. Barbara Armstrong

    Beautiful village with marvelous restorations. Your descriptions keep Italy alive in our hearts, along with memories of our time with you and Pino. Thank you Anne for your continued joy in sharing Italy with others.

  8. Ginny Siggia

    Do you think anyone would notice if I tucked myself into a niche between a chimney and a rooftop? I never get tired of looking at hilltop villages. Before retiring I fantasized about taking a sabbatical to just such a place. It never happened, but through this column I get a feast for the eyes and a tonic for the soul. Mille grazie, Annie!

  9. Lynn Cowhig

    Another wonderful adventure, described so well by Anne, once again makes me want to venture back to Umbria. Now I have so many “wants” to see over there I have to stay all summer!!

  10. This little town of Labro looks totally similar to our favorite little hill town in Lazio, Olevano Romano!! The concept of Albergo Diffuso is magical! We might go visit Labro for a couple of days in a different town. My husband is also an architect, who was trained partially in Rome, and he is crazy about hill towns!

  11. Sarah E Grimes

    Wonderful description of another beautiful place in Italy I would like to visit!

  12. KarenKotoske

    Oh sigh, wishing I could suddenly be transported to Albergo Diffuso this very second. Just looking at the photos brings me immense pleasure and a sigh of peace. Blessed and lucky all who visit these stones and walls….and friendly warm hospitality. Thanks Annie!

  13. Kris Samuelson

    Enjoyed this article as the rain poured outside; wishing I was sitting on that balcony right now.

  14. Mary Cappiello

    Another adventure to a new place that you make us all want to put on our “When-in-Italy” list, for sure, with your wonderful writing and pictures. This is a new idea of a hill town for most of us but there must be many of these albergo diffusos. Thanks for introducing them to us!

  15. Jean Scalessa

    Reading Anne Robichaud’s articles gives one the sense of actually being there. The combination of beautifully detailed descriptions and amazing photographs certainly inspire consideration of visiting the places and people Anne introduces to the reader. Thanks for printing these wonderful stories.

  16. Suzanne and Jack

    Another gem. What dedication to history and to the environment shown by the architect and his wife. How wonderful that the buildings and the view can, thanks to their hard work, continue to delight. Thank you Anne for bringing this to our attention.

  17. Ann Krapf

    Anne, Thanks for information on another gem we must visit and also for the beautiful pictures. Good to see you and Pino!

  18. Anna Retsker

    A wonderful story< Anne. See you soon at the cooking class in Virginia!


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