What’s better than a three-month trip to Italy? An all-expenses-paid three-month trip to Italy. Airbnb recently announced they would be paying four people to take a sabbatical in the Italian village of Grottole this summer, where they will live like locals while hosting visitors to the tiny town.
The home sharing company has partnered with Wonder Grottole, a local NGO promoting urban regeneration in the village, to cover the expenses of four lucky travelers. The winners will work with Airbnb as Homes and Experiences hosts, being trained in the language (with Italian lessons three times a week) and immersed in the community life, so that they can, in turn, be hosts for incoming visitors.
Through the experience, the temporary hosts of Grottole will tend to a community garden, learn to harvest honey, and produce olive oil, take cooking classes for local dishes, and explore the countryside by car. They will then share what they’ve learned with guests, and all proceeds from these Social Impact Experiences will be reinvested back into the village.
According to the companies, they’re doing this because Grottole, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the southern region of Basilicata, is at risk of disappearing. It’s a town of only 300 residents, and the population is shrinking with more than 600 empty homes. The goal is to ultimately repopulate the historic center and highlight the culture-rich experiences it has to offer.
“Italy is an extraordinary country with a strong and vibrant rural community, countless hilltop villages, and a passionate and welcoming culture,” said Joe Gebbia, Airbnb co-founder and chief product officer, 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.”