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Sudden Fame For Remote Italian Village Thanks To Airbnb’s Italian Sabbatical

May 9, 2019 OTA News No Comments Email Email

Many dream of escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life and embracing the slow rhythm of a small village. Five successful applicants – from Melbourne to Buenos Aires – are making this dream a reality following today’s announcement that they have been selected from over 280,000 candidates to take part in Airbnb’s Italian Sabbatical.

Inhabitants of the tiny community of Grottole were amazed to learn that over a quarter of a million people from around the world were willing to pack their bags and move to Italy for three months to help breathe new life into their beautiful village. Perched on top of a hill in southern Italy, Grottole has only 300 inhabitants in its ancient center and more than 600 empty homes.

The sudden interest in the tiny village has been sparked by the Italian Sabbatical – a collaboration between Airbnb and the non-profit Wonder Grottole. Wonder Grottole has offered candidates a three month stay in what locals refer to as ‘the borgo’ (small village). The volunteers will help with the organization’s mission to revitalize Grottole’s historic center which, despite its many charms, has been in steady decline over the years.

The five volunteers were selected based on their motivation, their willingness to commit to the project and their readiness to share their skills to serve the local community. On June 5, Grottole will welcome the following successful applicants:

  • Anne Tachado, 24, is a Melbourne-based photographer with extensive volunteering experience. She holds a degree in agriculture and moved to Australia from the Philippines at the age of 17.
  • Pablo Colangelo, 36, is a software engineer and host on Airbnb. He has Italian roots but was born and raised in Buenos Aires. This will be Pablo’s first experience living outside a city.
  • Helena Werren, 45, is a cultural guide from Canada. She grew up in a houseboat in British Columbia until she was 7. Today Helena works in tourism, introducing travellers to tango in Argentina.
  • Remo Sciubba, 62, is a former project manager with Abruzzese roots. He has discovered a passion for teaching foreign languages and now dedicates himself to this full-time.
  • Darrell Pistone, 61, is a former New York firefighter. He recently learnt that his grandparents came from Grottole.

Applications for participating in the Italian Sabbatical project were submitted from all over the world. The initiative generated most interest in the United States, Argentina, Mexico, India, and Canada. The most notable demographic among the applicants was Italian heritage (13%), with many explaining they were spurred on by a desire to reconnect with their ancestral roots. The primary motivation among applicants was to avoid burnout (19%). Many other candidates were motivated by the simple desire to revitalise the village (16%) or to decompress and unwind in the countryside (8%).

The Italian Sabbatical gives citizens of Grottole the chance to provide volunteers with a grounding in Italian culture, food, language, and traditions. The five volunteers will be completely immersed in community life, starting their journey with one month of training lead by locals before becoming fully fledged Home and Experience co-hosts with Wonder Grottole, a local NGO that promotes urban regeneration.

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