Airbnb and Wonder Grottole, a local NGO that promotes urban regeneration, are turning dreams into reality through the once in a lifetime chance to escape the drudgery of day to day life on an Italian sabbatical in the beautiful village of Grottole.
Located on the top of a hill in southern Italy’s picturesque province of Matera is the small village of Grottole, but with only 300 inhabitants in its historic centre and more than 600 empty homes, it is at risk of disappearing and needs support. To help breathe new life into the village, Airbnb is supporting Wonder Grottole to search for four people to volunteer as Experience and Home hosts for three months.
They will be transformed from tourists into temporary citizens of the village where they will learn the Italian language, help run the community vegetable garden and learn how to cook delicious Italian dishes made from produce they will have grown themselves.
“Italy is an extraordinary country with a strong and vibrant rural community, countless hilltop villages and a passionate and welcoming culture, says Joe Gebbia, Airbnb Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer. "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.”
The four volunteers will be immersed in community life, starting their journey with one month of training before they become fully fledged Home and Experience co-hosts with Wonder Grottole. As co-hosts on Airbnb, they will welcome guests to a beautiful bedroom at the local community center or into a traditional home in the center of the village.
Meanwhile, they will also act as hosts of Social Impact Experiences, 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.
“Our dream is to repopulate the historical centre,"says Silvio Donadio, founder of Wonder Grottole.. "In ten years we’d like to see the village full of people from different cultures perfectly integrated with the local community.”