Grottole set to welcome Airbnb sabbatical volunteers

Italy: The small Italian village of Grottole is preparing to host five volunteers chosen by Airbnb to become temporary residents as part of its “Italian Sabbatical” initiative.

The project, which is being staged in collaboration with the non-profit Wonder Grottole organisation, is aiming to “revitalise the village that is at risk of disappearing”.

Grottole is the home of 300 residents and 600 uninhabited homes in the southern region of Basilicata. It is also situated just 20 minutes from Matera, the 2019 European Capital of Culture and a filming location for the latest James Bond movie.

The five volunteers – Pablo, Anne, Helena, Remo and Darrell- will spend three months participating in rural life and learning about local culture together with residents of the village, such as Enza, who will serve as a cooking teacher.

Enza told Ansa Travel: “Based on what I saw in the video, they seem like really good people. I really hope that Grottole is revitalised – the more of us there are, the better we will be.”

According to Airbnb, its Italian Sabbatical initiative attracted up to 280,000 applications from aspiring travellers from all over the world.

Locals have already prepared homes to host the five volunteers who were chosen, and the volunteers will have a full schedule of activities involving the entire village.

It ties into a broader project overall for Airbnb. The upcoming Matera 2019 Experience Academy represents the first project of its kind in experiential tourism.

The project in Grottole will also enable local residents to make their village known to the wider world in the hopes of bringing in both tourism and jobs. Its mayor, Francesco De Giacomo, called the project a “one-of-a-kind opportunity”.

De Giacomo said: “Even if I had had 100,000 euros to invest in marketing, I never could have gotten the same results in terms of visibility.

“I hope the trend of depopulation, which is afflicting many small Italian villages, can be slowed. And I hope the can-do spirit I see today among the people in my community also stays.”

For more information about the sabbatical initiative, visit the Airbnb website here.

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