If spending three months in the southern Italian countryside helping revive a village at risk of disappearing sounds like an ideal way to spend the summer and experience Italy, then head on over to the Airbnb website and fill your application. You may be selected, along with three other people, to live in Grottole, a Basilicata hamlet 30 km from Matera, from June to August 2019, and help the local community with a series of projects while staying in a local house and becoming an Airbnb host, all expenses paid.
The initiative, called ‘The Italian Sabbatical,’ is a partnership between Airbnb and Wonder Grottole, a local nonprofit founded with the goal to revitalize Grottole's historic center, which counts 300 residents and 600 empty homes.
“My dream is to repopulate the historical center of the village,” says Andrea Paoletti, an architect from the north of Italy who now calls Grottole home and the founder of Wonder Grottole. “In ten years we’d love Grottole to be full of different cultures, and people perfectly integrated with the local community.”
Loving the idea, Airbnb decided to support the association offering four people the chance to be the trailblazers for the project. The sabbatical will cover each volunteer's travel to and from Grottole in addition to up to 900 euros a month for additional expenses. Some of the experiences the selected candidates will try include growing local produce in the vegetable garden with Andrea; Italian cooking lessons with Rosa, described as ‘the best cook in town’; Italian language lessons; olive oil harvesting with father and son Giuseppe and Vincenzo; exploring the Basilicata countryside aboard a classic Ape car.
The idea is for the four selected people to become temporary citizens of the village, immersing themselves in the life of the village, and welcoming in turn new visitors, sharing what they’ve learned. Visitors to the area are expected in greater numbers this year as Matera gets more attention as the European Capital of Culture 2019.
“This is a village with strong traditions, where you can ring anyone’s doorbell and be welcomed in like real family,” Andrea explains on the Airbnb Italian Sabbatical website. “People like chatting about small things, they like sitting in front of their door. It’s a place to forget the burden of chaotic city life to discover the lightness that can come with rural life.”
Intrigued? See The Italian Sabbatical for details and complete your application by February 17.