Alberghi Diffusi: please don’t translate this name!

    (ANSA) – Sant’Agata Feltria (Rimini), January 10 – Italy is

dotted with hundreds of remote, sparsely populated historic

villages that have fallen into disrepair as new generations

moved to the cities to find work and live modern lifestyles.

     Enter Giancarlo Dall’Ara, a marketing professor at Perugia

University who has long been convinced that these villages, with

their medieval architecture and fast-disappearing popular lore,

are worth saving. A proponent of alternative approaches to

hospitality, who uses key words like Memory, Gift, Storytelling,

and Webs, he came up with the ingenious idea of the scattered

hotel (albergo diffuso), a simple, non-invasive and sustainable

concept in tourism. 

     Dall’Ara’s notion is that rooms are scattered in different

buildings within the town, but run by a manager working out of a

central reception area, who is on hand to answer questions, make

recommendations and arrange bookings. The guestrooms are all

within walking distance of the concierge and common areas, while

traditional meals may be served at a café or delivered to

guests’ rooms. This allows visitors to imbed themselves in

village life, while enjoying all the amenities of a hotel.

     Scattered hotels, says Dall’Ara, are healthy for the host

villages, because they act as social, cultural and economic

stimuli. He calls them ”drivers of development,” because

everything is sourced on site, involving the residents and local

producers, and preventing depopulation. 

     Scattered hotels are also ecologically and culturally

sound, because they don’t call for new construction, but rather,

for the restoration and preservation of centuries-old

architecture. ”Reconverting an existing room into a hotel room

is far more sustainable than building a new hotel. Of course all

renovations try to be sustainable, and to preserve the original

materials as far as possible,” said Dall’Ara, founder and

president of the National Association of Scattered Hotels

(Associazione Nazionale degli Alberghi Diffusi – ADI). ”A

scattered hotel generates a local chain of production, keeps the

building stock viable, and brings tourists in as temporary

residents, not just visitors passing through”.

    The remoteness of these villages, which once drove the

younger people away, has now become their strength, says

Dall’Ara. Here is where some of the old ways of cooking,

weaving, and storytelling are still preserved, and this cultural

wealth is the mother lode for unorthodox travelers, who yearn

for authenticity and like to move off the beaten paths. Many of

them, says Dall’Ara, are from Northern Europe and the US.

Tourist operators in Germany regularly organize stays in

scattered hotels, which are also featured in guides like Lonely

Planet and Guide Routard.

     Sardinian regional authorities first recognized scattered

hotels in 1998. Eleven years later, a UN Development Programme

(UNDP) convention in Budapest gave Dall’Ara’s concept an award

for best economic growth practice capable of being transmitted

to developing countries.

     In Assisi in 2010, ADI received a prize for Italian

responsible tourism, and in London, Dall’Ara garnered the World

Travel Market (WTM) Global Award, given yearly to original

thinkers in the tourism industry. In June of this year, the

Touring Club published the first national guide to scattered

hotels.

      He added that the concept has begun to

spread abroad, in places like Croatia, Switzerland, and the

former Soviet bloc countries. His hope for the future is that

the government will take it on as a ‘made in Italy’ model worth

promoting.

GDA Giancarlo Dall'Ara Consulenze e progetti di marketing
Palazzo Maffei - 47866 Sant'Agata Feltria (RN)
tel. 0541 929777, fax 0541 929744 e-mail: giancarlo.dallara@gmail.com
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