How would you like to live in Italy for 3 months, for free??

I know I would dearly love to. I found out about this incredible opportunity and unfortunately I can’t take advantage of it. It happens across the time I have my Glam Italia Tours, and on top of that my son starts college in the fall, so I have to be here.

But can you imagine yourself sipping your cappuccino every morning in an ancient piazza, living in a centuries old home, cooking with the locals and spending balmy summer evenings with a glass of wine under the shade of a 500 year old tree and a view to die for?? Not only can it happen, but it can happen FOR FREE!!

ancient buildings in the southern Italian town of Grottole in Basilicata
Grottole, Basilicata

Italy’s Shrinking Villages

Italy has a problem. Up and down the country its magical, beautiful little villages are becoming ghost towns. With not enough local work to support the young folk, they are having to move either to the big cities or to other countries in order to make a living. As the older generations head heavenward these picture postcard, gorgeous little towns and villages are being left close to empty.

More than half of Italy’s small towns are likely to be deserted in the next few decades. Approximately 2430 of them are considered to be at risk.

Airbnb Has A Plan

Airbnb has come up with a brilliant plan to stop these idyllic villages from falling into ruin, starting with the revitalization of one darling little town.

They announced this week that they are going to sponsor four people to have an unique opportunity to live in the little town of Grottole for 3 months, experiencing real, authentic Italian life. I die. Can you even imagine???

The village of Grotole in Basilicata, Italy. Win the opportunity to live here for 3 months for free
The village of Grottole in Basilicata, Italy

“Selected candidates will become temporary citizens of the village and will volunteer for a local non-profit organisation called “Wonder Grottole” whose aim is to revitalise the town’s historical centre,” it said in its call for applications.

The Italian Sabbatical – Your New Country Life In Grottole

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and become a temporary citizen of a village in the south of Italy. Immerse yourself in the local culture and discover how to speak, act and cook the Italian way. You will also get to support the local community by hosting an Airbnb Experience. Your goal? To help the local community revitalize the small village of Grottole.

Candidates must be over 18, be available to move to Grottole for 3 months, from June to August 2019, and have a good knowledge of English.

Ancient ruins in the southern Italian town of Grottole in Basilicata. Win a 3 month sabbatical in Grottole - live in Italy for free for 3 months!
Ancient ruins in the southern Italian town of Grottole in Basilicata

The village’s four newest residents will be announced on March 29, 2019.It says the small village, which is near Matera, the 2019 Capital of Culture, has only 300 inhabitants and more than 600 houses standing empty.

Airbnb paints an idyllic picture of life in the village, promising days beginning with cappuccino and a language lesson before meeting a cast of bee-keeping, olive-oil producing residents.

But while it sounds like a holiday, Airbnb expects the four new “residents” to complete training to become Airbnb Experience Hosts who’ll go on to work for Wonder Grottole.

The chosen four will be expected to completely immerse themselves in the local culture, studying Italian, working in the community garden, and learning to cook traditional recipes, before then passing on their newfound knowledge to the influx of visitors Airbnb Italy is hoping will then descend on the village.

Grottole Basilicata castle on the hill.
Grottole’s castle

We have to create a system, or the many Grottoles across Italy will continue to remain hidden gems,” said Matteo Frigerio, Country Manager of Airbnb Italy. 

This system, it’s hoped, will breathe new life into the village which is currently heading for extinction.

Where Is Grottole?

map of southern Italy showing Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria and Campagna. Map shows Naples, Matera and Bari

This is super exciting. Grottole is in Basilicata, the region that makes up the instep of Italy’s boot. The village is only an hour drive from Matera, one of my favorite towns in the world! (see related posts about Matera here, here and here ). The village is an hour’s drive from the beautiful beaches that make up Basilicata’s Ionian coast. If you love beaches you are also close to another of my favorite parts of Italy, the neighboring region of Puglia, and its magnificent coastlines. (see related post about Puglia). The Amalfi Coast is only a little over 2 1/2 hours drive away, with the town of Salerno giving you fast train access to all of Italy.

“In ten years we’d like to see the village full of people of different cultures perfectly integrated with the local community” said Silvio Donadio, founder of Wonder Grottole.

You can apply to win a 3 month sabbatical here: APPLY HERE


I have been to Capri many times, and loved it.
But lately Capri has felt less like the jet-set world of Jackie O, and more like the hellish realm of a disgorged cruise ship.

Capri is definitely chic. No question. But it has become horribly touristy. There is invariably a cruise ship or two in the harbor, and during the day the piazzetta can be a nightmare crush of humanity that you have to wade your way through in order to get anywhere. Somewhere along the way I started losing interest.

When I was planning this year’s Glam Italia Tour, which included a week on the Amalfi Coast I just couldn’t face taking anyone to Capri. I know I will go back at some point, but for now I have a new island love, and that love is called Procida.

Arriving in Procida

Procida is the smallest island in the Bay of Naples’ Campanian Archipelago, at a mere 3.2 km long.


incredibly colorful arrival in Procida!
I found this picture on pinterest,
because my own weren’t vibrant enough!

One of the 24 most colorful places in the world, Procida has attracted movie directors over and over as the setting for their films, so much of it may feel familiar to you.
(The movie Il Postino was shot on Procida and on the Aeolian island of Salina).


Marina Corricella, Procida

You get to Procida by ferry or hydrofoil from Naples, and the “wow” factor on arrival is just staggering. Out of the blue, blue ocean, set against the blue, blue sky erupts an explosion of color in the form of bright yellow and pink fishermen’s houses, that will take your breath away.

 Related Post: 8 Things You MUST Do In Naples

morning sun in Procida

Procida feels authentic. A weekend retreat for the people of Naples, it doesn’t have the manic tourism and outdoor mall feel of nearby Capri.

Where to stay on Procida

I did spot one Tshirt shop while there, and I’m sure there must have been a couple more, but as you walk around town you feel as though you have stepped into some secret slice of shabby-chic Italian island life that hasn’t been polluted by major retailers and Chinese manufacturers.
It looks and feels real.


narrow streets of Procida

The streets are narrow and windy and in some places steep. You can spend hours just wandering around and exploring.


pink houses in Procida

The perfect day trip to Procida would start by taking the very first ferry or hydrofoil from Naples.
Walk around the port area and have an espresso or two, then take your time and discover the streets as they weave and wind up the hill, working your way over to Corricella.

 Related Post: 10 Things You Must Do On The Amalfi Coast

socks hanging out to dry on shutters

Marina Corricella, is a darling and picturesque sliver of a bay that backs onto a cliff made out of fisherman’s houses.


fishing nets drying in the sun, Corricella, Procida

Fishing nets lie out to dry along the waterfront and fishing boats moor against the sea wall – did I mention it feels authentic??


fishing boat moored in Marina Corricella

Marina Corricella is the perfect place to stop for lunch. There are several oceanfront restaurants to choose from, but we wound up taking in the view from Bar Graziella. The hilarious and engaging owner Vincenzo opened Bar Graziella in 1964, and apparently was the first restaurant in Corricella.
The food is bountiful and inexpensive. We ordered a platter of seafood antipasti and a salad, supposedly an order for one person, but there was more than enough for 4!


Lunching under the umbrellas at Bar Graziella, Corricella, Procida

After lunch walk along the eastern shore from Corricella to Chaia beach. You’ll take a long flight of stairs to the sand but you need the walk to burn off lunch.

 Related Post: 18 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Pompeii

streets of procida

When you are done beaching head either on foot or by bus up to Terra Murata and Abbazia di San Michele. You can check out the walled fortress which was at one time a monastery and until recently a prison, take in the stunning panoramic views of the Bay of Naples. Here from the highest point on the island you can walk down through the two stone gateways into the still inhabited idyllic settlement of Terra Murata. Wander around some more, and make sure you visit the art filled, romantic little church, Abbey of St Michael.


selfie in Celine sunglasses in Procida

Sightseeing done, make your way back to the port and enjoy a locally made gelato before boarding your hydrofoil back to Napoli.

 Related Post: The Ancient Greek Temples Of Paestum

Limon Gelato, Procida

My only regret about the Glam Italia 2 Tour is that I allowed just one day in Procida.
Although the island is small, it is the perfect place to escape to. You can stay here for days on end doing nothing much at all. Evenings on Procida are said to be magic. This is the ideal spot to sneak away to with your Italian lover, or to plan a little romantic getaway.


Another place to stay on Procida (check out these photos!)

From nearby Ischia it is 30 minutes by boat, from Naples 40 minutes by hydrofoil.

All images in this post apart from the one noted, were taken with my iPhone during the Glam Italia 2 Tour. Please do not use any of them without written permission from me.

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