The Italian village of Grottole, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Photo: Airbnb

Airbnb Is Sending Four People to an Italian Village for the Summer

The home-sharing platform is sponsoring a three-month sabbatical at a UNESCO World Heritage Site

If your New Year’s resolution was to travel more, Airbnb has quite the opportunity for you. The home-sharing site is sponsoring a trip for four to spend three months living in the small Italian village Grottole.

Grottole, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has only 300 residents, while over 600 homes in the village sit empty. With its population dwindling, Grottole is at risk of disappearing. Airbnb hopes that the trip, which they’ve branded The Italian Sabbatical, will bring attention to the town. Selected candidates will become temporary citizens of the hamlet and will volunteer for a local non-profit organization called “Wonder Grottole” whose aim is to revitalize the town’s historic center.

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“Our dream is to repopulate the historical center,” Silvio Donadio, founder of Wonder Grottole said in a statement. “In ten years we’d like to see the village full of people from different cultures perfectly integrated with the local community.”

Grottole, a small village in southern Italy, has only 300 residents. Photo: Airbnb

The four volunteers will be immersed in community life, starting their journey with one month of training in June, which will include learning some Italian, tending the community vegetable garden, and learning to cook traditional Italian dishes, before they become fully fledged Airbnb hosts with Wonder Grottole. As co-hosts on Airbnb, they will welcome guests who come to stay in the village and will also act as hosts of what the site calls “Social Impact Experiences,” which entails showing visitors traditional skills like vegetable farming, honey harvesting, pasta making, and olive oil production. All proceeds from these experiences will be invested back into the village.

“Italy is an extraordinary country with a strong and vibrant rural community, countless hilltop villages and a passionate and welcoming culture,” Joe Gebbia, Airbnb co-founder and chief product officer, said in a statement. “We want to help preserve these communities so they continue for generations to come. By inspiring and supporting others to get involved and make real contributions to village life, we hope it shines a light on the beauty of rural Italy.”

Interested candidates can apply at italiansabbatical.com through February 17.

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