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.”
The volunteers will learn from other Experience hosts on Airbnb including Rocco, the resident beekeeper who has lived in the village for more than thirty years. “Coming to Grottole from a big city, people will find an ancient village, full of woods and pastures," says Rocco. "We encourage them to leave everything behind and connect with our way of living. They will experience a new dimension,”
Vincenzo, the olive oil producer, adds, “Visitors coming to Grottole will live in a quiet place, with slow living. There’s no traffic, no chaos, no pollution, good food and above all welcoming people. People from abroad will bring a new energy to our village and they must be open to sharing their stories with us. We are good listeners.”
The Italian Sabbatical is sponsored by Airbnb and promoted by the NGO Wonder Grottole as a part of a wider Airbnb partnership with Fondazione Matera Basilicata 2019. The partnership aims to further promote the idea of visitors as temporary citizens, engaging with the local community and travelers visiting Basilicata for Matera European Capital of Culture 2019.
To apply, visit www.italiansabbatical.com and complete the application form. Candidates must be over 18, available to move to Grottole for three months from June to August 2019 to volunteer for the NGO Wonder Grottole and be able to speak good conversational English. They will learn Italian during their trip. Applicants will also need to demonstrate their commitment to contribute to village life.
The Italian Sabbatical is a project promoted by Wonder Grottole and sponsored by Airbnb. The final selection of four will be announced on March 29, 2019. The sabbatical is open to residents, aged 18 or over from the following countries: United States, Mexico, Argentina (except the province of Mendoza), Italy, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Australia, India and Japan. Selection rules available on the website.