Albergo diffuso: An alternative form of hospitality

Buildings located in historic areas are given a second life as they welcome visitors eager to learn about and experience local culture. This is the albergo diffuso, an Italian concept that combines the very old with the contemporary.

Article from Amelie Racine

An albergo diffuso is a type of accommodation that offers the services of a traditional hotel along with a space that is like a rented private home. One of the special features of this Italian concept is its horizontal structure, which spreads the hotel services over several buildings. For example, the guest rooms and apartments may be located on different streets in the same neighbourhood, while the reception area is located in location X, the restaurant in location Y and other services in location Z, all within a 200-metre radius.

albergo diffuso map - sustainable tourism - Canada

Another distinctive feature of the albergo diffuso is the age of the buildings that compose it. In fact, one of the goals of the concept is to repurpose abandoned buildings, houses and even monuments. The idea is not to build anything new, but to reuse.

The guidelines of the albergo diffuso model respect the values of sustainable development in many respects:

Promote local culture: one reason visitors select this type of accommodation is to enjoy an authentic local experience.
Stimulate the local economy: the creation of an albergo diffuso encourages one or more homeowners to participate in an organization that is usually a cooperative and supports the development of small businesses working in traditional sectors like handicrafts and food preparation.
Protect the environment: preserving existing buildings and giving them a second life helps safeguard the area’s history and limits the environmental damage that could be caused by new construction.
This type of hospitality is also reminiscent of the old European tradition of hosting tourists in homes.

An increasingly structured concept
To be able to call itself an albergo diffuso, an accommodation must meet several conditions, summarized as follows:

The idea must be launched by local stakeholders
Hotel services (reception, restaurant, etc.) must be provided
There must be a sole management entity: a single entrepreneur or any other efficient form of association, with a cooperative being the most commonly used form
The town or village where the albergo diffuso is located must offer a minimum of services such as a pharmacy, grocery store, etc.
The albergo diffuso must take root in a lively, welcoming community that is open to sharing experiences with visitors

In the past few years, an association, the Associazione Nazionale Alberghi Diffusi (ADI), has been founded to help its members market themselves. At the same time, the Scuola Internazionale di Specializzazione in Albergo Diffuso, a school specializing in albergo diffuso, offers seminars, training and tools to assist property owners, management companies and local communities who are implementing this concept in their area.

Albergo Diffuso promotion in Canada

The albergo diffuso model may be copied in other countries by adapting it to the host region. Moreover, the Business Innovation Centre of the Lazio Region, BIC Lazio, and the ADI offer technical assistance to the various countries that would like to implement this approach.

Will the albergo diffuso concept make its way to Quebec?

It would be one way to revitalize certain villages affected by the rural exodus, repurpose some of the buildings from our religious heritage or even develop a network of accommodations in Quebec’s Far North.

To contact Amelie : @Amelie Racine
published by: Reseau de Veille en Tourisme

Also thanks to “Albergo Diffuso” e professor Giancarlo Dall’Ara to let me find this Amelie’s article.

img from: Villa retrosi