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A growing phenomenon that has been percolating in Italy for the past 20 years offers the kind of authentic experience many of today’s travelers seek. Even before Airbnb existed, the albergo diffuso concept has provided visitors with a way to live like a local. Often translated as scattered hotel, this model’s fundamental principle is to restore abandoned buildings in ancient villages and repurpose them as tourist lodgings. The concept allows travelers to embed within the community — without overwhelming its residents.
There are currently 200 places calling themselves alberghi diffusi (the plural form) in Italy, but the Associazione Nazionale di Alberghi Diffusi only recognizes 100 of those.
In recent years, the albergo diffuso model has started to spread beyond Italy’s borders. About 30 official alberghi diffusi have opened in other parts of the world, including nearby San Marino and far-off Japan. Germany and the Italian-speaking Ticino region of Switzerland will both open their first alberghi diffusi next year. And the founder of the model, Giancarlo Dall’Ara, recently checked out potential projects taking shape in Albania and Kosovo.
“The interest is very high,” said Dall’Ara, “because it is a real development engine. The model of using empty houses and generating new opportunities for young people and promoting sustainable tourism could be very important, especially in countries that have small villages with the same problems (empty houses, elderly residents, few young people…).”
By providing travelers with more excuses to explore beyond big cities, alberghi diffusi preserve heritage architecture, inject economic development into rural areas, and offer an antidote to overtourism.
— Laura Powell, Skift Luxury Editor
5 Looks at Luxury
Italy Revives Abandoned Villages as Experiential Travel Destinations: While every destination tries to offer authenticity, few really deliver. But in Italy, scores of local passion projects are serving up the real deal while helping rural areas make a comeback.
Marriott’s Mission: Make W Hotels Cool Again: W Hotels were once the hottest hangouts in town but two decades after its creation, it has been overshadowed by its younger competitors. Marriott inherited the W Hotel brand when it bought Starwood in 2016. Now it’s up to the hotel giant to make the W brand shine again.
The Rise of Smart Airports: A Skift Deep Dive: After years of being stuck in the past, new “smart” airports are embracing technology and data to improve the experience for both passengers and vendors. But progress is still slow, widening the gap between cutting-edge and archaic facilities. What’s needed? More vision, less bureaucracy.
UK’s Wild Frontiers Buys U.S. Adventure Operator Myths & Mountains As Asia Demand Rises: In the post-experiences world, one sector that will keep thriving is niche adventure tour operators that really know what they are talking about. They take clients backstage to explore exotic places and leave little footprint — but deposit lots of dollars in local communities.
Is Singapore’s New Hotel Guest Authentication Just Creepy Surveillance? Self check-in by facial recognition at hotels is unlikely to be an industry-wide reality anytime soon in Singapore — and that’s not exactly bad news.
Skift Luxury Editor Laura Powell [email@example.com] curates the New Luxury newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Tuesday.