Santo Stefano di Sessanio is a fortified medieval village tucked within the mountains of Abruzzo, but for decades, it was a ghost town.
Poverty, a lack of jobs and earthquakes triggered Italy’s rural exodus and created many ghost towns — like Santo Stefano — that have stood dormant and frozen in time.
That is, until now. Italian entrepreneur Daniele Kihlgren has launched a new concept that is breathing new life into stone-carved towns. It’s called an “albergo diffuso,” where hotel rooms are scattered through empty villages to create sprawling hotels.
But it’s a careful process that takes years and millions of Euros to create, as luxury rooms are hidden behind untouched exterior walls in order to preserve the architecture and local culture.
Now, eager tourists arrive to learn customs, cooking and history from newly-employed locals.
There are now 40 albergi diffusi in Italy.
They’re not easy to get to, and they’re not cheap but as you can see, the true Italian experience is drawing travelers from across the world.