An extraordinary opportunity to immerse yourself in Italian culture while living rent-free in a designer home has arisen.
It might look like a January mirage, but Airbnb is genuinely seeking a host to hold down the fort in one of its Sicilian properties from this summer.
The homestay giant bought one of the old Italian houses on sale for €1, turning it into a stylish three-storey townhouse.
Where is the Airbnb property?
The story goes back to when the small rural village of Sambuca di Sicilia first launched a rejuvenation campaign in 2019. Named the most beautiful Italian village in 2016, Sambuca was already starting from pretty solid foundations.
And with the rise in remote working, there’s sure to be a wide pool of applicants looking to take Airbnb up on the offer of a year’s stay in the 1 Euro House, around 80km south of Sicily’s biggest city, Palermo.
You’ll need to have “a passion for nature, Italian culture and for playing [your] part in Sambuca’s renaissance,” says the rental site. “The participant will therefore need to demonstrate a commitment to hosting and contributing to village life.”
If getting stuck into Sambuca’s sunny way of life doesn’t sound too taxing for you, here’s what else you need to know to enter the competition.
Who is the perfect host and what does it involve?
You need to be over 18 to apply, have conversational English and either Italian or a willingness to learn the language.
It needn’t be spent in splendid isolation, either: the successful application can bring a friend, their partner or family - up to two adults and two children.
The move in date is 30th June 2022, and you’ll have to stay in Sambuca for at least three consecutive months and host a private room within the home for a minimum of nine months.
You’ll have dibs on the best bedroom, naturally, and the run of the property which has been given a designer makeover by Italian architects at Studio Didea.
There’s plenty of work space to live out your digital nomad dream, and of course you get to keep all Airbnb Host earnings.
Why is Airbnb offering a slice of the Italian life for free?
The initiative is part of a wider commitment to support rural communities and cultural heritage in Europe, says Airbnb. But this particular boost to Sambuca tourism is a savvy one, as Sicily has become an increasingly popular destination during the pandemic.
In 2019, just four Italian cities - Rome, Venice, Milan and Florence - accounted for more than 26 per cent of all travel to the country. Two years later and that lion’s share has dropped to under 17 per cent, as Sicily and other locations rise up the rankings, according to a recent study.
Airbnb says it aims to support this growing demand by working with villages like Sambuca to help restore them to their former glory. Its enthusiasm appears to be matched by the village.
Mayor Leonardo Ciaccio says, “The beauty of this campaign is that it gives a second chance not just to an abandoned heritage home in the heart of our village - it’s also a second chance to the person who moves into it. We see it as a designer makeover for the house and the Host.
“We’re looking for someone who wants to live with the local population and participate in all the important moments of the community, from the grape harvest to olive picking and we can't wait to welcome whoever gets selected!”
If you want to throw your hat in the ring for your own big Italian adventure, you can find the application form here. The window closes at 4.45am (GMT) on 19 February.
Watch the video above to see the house for yourself.