How did Albergo Diffuso start?
How did scattered hotels start?
The idea of scattered hotels got its start in the early 1980s. Hotel marketing consultant Giancarlo Dall’Ara got the inspiration for scattered hotels while trying to revive tourism in an earthquake-damaged corner of northeastern Italy in the 1970s. Dall’Ara is still involved in the alberghi diffusi movement as the president of the National Association of Alberghi Diffusi. This is the organization that certifies new scattered hotels, and the group’s reach has spread beyond Italy. In 2018, for example, Dall’Ara traveled to Okayama, Japan to officially add the Yakageya Inn to the list of authentic scattered hotels.
Having an active organization promoting this unique vacation option is important because the requirements help authentic places stand out, even in a sea of other options.
A growing niche that’s not quite like anything else
At the same time, the hotel-like services and tourist-friendly layout of alberghi diffusi make them different from newer trends like Airbnb. Sharing economy accommodation services can vary widely, but hotel-like experiences are certainly not the norm. For people who want to live in a real neighborhood instead of a tourist bubble, Airbnb and its peers are usually the only options.
In this sense, the alberghi diffusi offers the best of both worlds: an authentic local experience in a non-big-brand hotel, but with the services of a hotel. It’s an arrangement that benefits tourists and villagers. Villagers have a reason to remain and invest in their town. They can earn additional income from their property or a tourist-focused business, while guests can experience an authentic village without skipping the hotel services they desire.