The rise of Italy’s hamlet hotels – and five of the best

Originating in Italy in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the concept of the “scattered hotel” was the brainchild of hotel marketing consultant Giancarlo Dall’Ara, who hit upon it as a way to revive tourism after a devastating earthquake in Friuli in 1976.

He subsequently founded the Associazione dei Alberghi Diffusi ( with the idea that the same model could inject new life into Italy’s numerous semi-abandoned villages, a phenomenon that was on the rise due to young people being lured to the bright lights of the city by better job and lifestyle prospects.

The premise was that empty houses and apartments within a community could be repurposed as tourist accommodation, bringing in much-needed cash, while visitors would get a more authentic experience. Win win.

Normally there is a central reception building, maybe with a breakfast room, but the bedrooms and apartments are scattered throughout the village and guests are encouraged to drink at the local bars, eat in the restaurants, spend their euros in the shops and mix with the local community.


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