Here we go again with another jaw-dropping “can this be REAL?” initiative for drawing interest to Italy’s many forgotten villages.

No joke, you guys.

AirBnb wants to PAY YOU to spend three months this summer living like a local in Grottole, a picturesque little village in southern Italy.

You heard that right.

In partnership with Wonder Grottole, a non-profit whose goal is to revitalize the town’s historic center, AirBnb is going to choose four people to help breathe some life back into this community.

The chosen four will live all-expenses-paid from June 1st to August 30th in a rural home in the center of Grottole, an ancient village 30 minutes west of Matera, surrounded by chestnut fields and rolling hills in an area all but untouched by tourism.

Travel to and from Grottole is included, and each participant will receive 900 euro a month spending money as well.

In exchange, participants will spend a month taking Italian lessons, as well as learning how to run the local vegetable garden, harvest honey, make pasta and olive oil, and prepare traditional Italian meals. After that, they will act as co-hosts for AirBnb properties in Grottole and share their new skills in the form of AirBnb Experiences. All proceeds will be invested back into Grottole’s rejuvenation project.

You may remember our blog post on the 1-euro houses being sold in places like Sambuca in Sicily and Montieri in Tuscany.

Populations in many Italian towns are plummeting, and the fear is that some truly gorgeous locales are going to go full ghost town, and soon.


Grottole is one of them — its population numbers just 300 these days, and there are 600 empty homes here. One of the founders of Wonder Grottole, Silvio Donadio, says, “Our dream is to repopulate the historical center. In ten years we’d like to see the village full of people from different cultures perfectly integrated with the local community.”

AirBnb is eager to help get things started, having gotten backlash over the last few years about its short-term rentals driving housing prices up and true locals out of popular tourist destinations, damaging the fabric of these neighborhoods’ and towns’ traditional communities. The Grottole project is part of AirBnb’s new Community Tourism Program aimed at helping to “preserve and promote what makes each community unique for everyone: hosts, guests and locals alike.”

Ready to sign up?

Just fill out your application here before February 17th at 11:59 pm CET.

A panel of judges will then select 30 finalists who will be contacted via email for a round of video conference interviews before the final 4 are announced on March 29th.

As Joe Gebbia, co-founder and CPO at AirBnb, says, “Italy is an extraordinary country with a strong and vibrant rural community, countless hilltop villages and a passionate and welcoming culture. We want to help preserve these communities so they continue for generations to come.”

We want that too, and we would love to see one of our own readers make the cut!

Let us know in the comments below if you’re applying to be one of the four summertime residents of Grottole thanks to AirBnb. What’s the main draw for you? Helping to save a dying town? The all-expenses-paid part? Needing a new adventure? We’d love to hear your motivation!

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