With the Adriatic coast on one side and the Apennine mountains on the other, San Giovanni in Galdo is a pretty, typical Italian hamlet. One of dozens of pretty medieval villages in the Campobasso Hills in the Molise region of southern Italy, its ancient cobbled streets are almost untouched by industrialization and are home to just 553 residents.
It is the ideal place to get away from it all when modern life gets a little heavy, and above all because it now offers tourists the possibility of enjoying a week’s holiday in the village completely free of charge.
Founded by local residents in 2013 with the aim of revitalizing the village, the cultural organization Amici del Morrutto started offering free trips to tourists last July in order to revive tourism in Molise during a particularly difficult year for the region.
Named Regalati il Molise, or ‘Give Yourself Molise’, the program allowed tourists to stay in three old houses in the village that had remained empty for years due to depopulation, with local farmers and producers coming together to offer products at the meals of the guests. (and other villagers welcoming them for dinner). With 40 free vacations offered between July and October last year, the Amici del Morrutto were, as you might expect, inundated with requests, with thousands coming every day from Italy and beyond.
Making headlines across Europe – and with some city-dweller guests even asking to move to the rural idyll – the program has been such a success that the village has now decided to keep it going indefinitely. Amici del Morrutto also hopes that its pilot initiative will lead to the creation of a hotel network throughout Molise, using even more uninhabited houses in neighboring villages to promote slow and sustainable tourism in the region.
So, fancy a free week sipping wine in the Italian countryside? Of course you do. Applications can be made via a form on the Amici del Morrutto website. However, you may want to brush up on your Italian first. In bocca al lupo!
Or if you are looking for a permanent change of scenery? Another beautiful Italian village sells houses for just € 1.
More: Manchester is giving away free hotel nights to visitors this summer.