Almost everyone knows about Hobbiton in New Zealand, the fantastic set where the scenes set in the Hobbit Shire were filmed for Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. I personally visited it a few years ago and, as a fan of the books and then the movies, I found it to be a wonderful place.
However, few know that a similar place exists in Italy, in the heart of the Abruzzo region, amidst the green hills of Bucchianico.
The Gentile Shire
Blinding sunshine, velvet waistcoats, and sweet music welcome visitors to a small paradise dedicated to fans of Tolkien’s saga. It’s the Gentile Shire, a project to recreate a Hobbit shire born from the vision of Nicolas Gentile, a pastry chef who grew up in the province of Chieti and returned home after years away.
The Gentile Shire project, still in the process of completion, is the creation of a fantastic village nestled in the unspoiled Abruzzo countryside, rich with stories, legends, good food, and fresh air. It consists of comfortable houses dug into the hillside, adventurous dwarf caravans, woods echoing with laughter, a cool river for summer immersion, and the beloved old cultivated farmland.
Mr. Gentile’s project initially started from his personal efforts and was later supported by an ongoing crowdfunding campaign, running until 2023, which allowed the organizers to build the first houses, roads, fences, and everything needed.
The Ring to Mount Doom
One of the most successful initiatives related to the Gentile Shire was undoubtedly the undertaking of Nicolas Gentile and his faithful friends to symbolically carry the One Ring to the fiery depths of Italy’s Mount Doom, Mount Vesuvius. Following the story written by J.R.R. Tolkien in The Fellowship of the Ring, Nicolas and his companions journeyed the entire distance between Bucchianico, the town where the Gentile Shire is located, and Mount Vesuvius, near Naples. They documented the approximately 200 km journey and shared it skillfully across all social channels where the Gentile Shire community was born and grown.
The initiative was launched to raise media attention for the fundraising campaign for the shire park’s construction, and it can be considered a great success to this day.
In addition to being a permanent attraction for enthusiasts and the curious, the Gentile Shire organizes various events every year. The most important ones are undoubtedly the spring event called “Welcome Home” and the late summer celebration, in honor of Bilbo Baggins’ birthday, titled “A Long-Expected Party” just as in The Lord of the Rings books.
During these events, the shire hosts exhibitors, gatherings, conferences, and other interesting initiatives related to The Lord of the Rings and other famous fantasy sagas. All participants are invited to dress up in theme, take part in reenactments and parades, and share the spirit of joviality that characterizes these gatherings. Last but not least, the events, usually spanning three days, include dinners and feasts with typical local products, renamed with Elvish and Dwarvish names for the occasion.
In conclusion, the Gentile Shire is a fascinating project and a magical place. Although it’s not yet in its final version, it’s definitely worth visiting, especially to participate in one of the events and be transported into a fantastical world where peace and happiness reign.
I must emphasize that its unfinished state and the opportunity to contribute in many ways to its growth only add a sense of belonging and community that enhances the experience.
Located just 30 minutes from Pescara, 2 hours from Rome, and 3 hours from Naples, this place is perfect for a two-day getaway. Remember to check for the presence of one of the events and book your ticket in advance, as the spots are limited.
All images are owned by and freely taken from www.laconteagentile.it