Unfortunately not well-known, Italy’s project to refurbish buildings in villages is the route to solving the overwhelming influx of tourists into the country. By Shrimayee Thakur
While the recent floods in Venice have left the city and its populace devastated, Venice was struggling even years before the floods due to the large amount of tourists that pour in to see the beautiful city. With visitors even saying that the vast crowds negatively impacted their experience, it is imperative to find a solution to reduce this flow of people into cities like Venice, Rome and Florence. To lessen the pressure, the best bet would be to divert the people elsewhere.
Albergo diffuso (which translates to scattered hotels) is a concept developed by Giancarlo Dall’Ara, a Tourism Marketing Professor, as a means to breathe new life into villages that were destroyed by the Friuli region earthquakes in 1976. According to Dall’Ara, hotels would be a great solution for towns, but not for villages as the latter are smaller. His concept, therefore, was to turn abandoned buildings in villages into lodgings for tourists in order to create sustainable tourism and provide a space where visitors get to live like locals. However, he also set some standards for which buildings could house visitors. The buildings had to have at least seven guest rooms, and offer the services and comforts of traditional hotels.
Albergo diffuso has since taken off in Italy as an initiative to both boost the nation’s village economy, and to create sustainable tourism away from the glamour of its more popular cities. One such village, Semproniano, in southern Tuscany, is a remote village tucked away in a forest. Fulvio Ponzuoli, who lived in the village as a child, chose to develop it under the Albergo diffuso concept. The 1,000 year old village now has Fulvio’s Borgo di Sempronio, where the reception is just up the street from the bar, breakfast is in a former medieval storehouse, and rooms are in buildings built before 1400 AD.
Other villages have also been built in the same way, such as Le Grotte della Civita located in the Sassi area of Matera, offering lodgings in candlelit caves, WiFi and breakfast in a 13th century church; and, Convento San Basilio Relais, located in the heart of Amalfi.