Transforming villages into alberghi diffusi
When it comes to accommodation, Italians are generally pretty imaginative — witness the growing trend for transforming abandoned rural villages and hill towns into alberghi diffusi, or scattered hotels. I have stayed in a number of these and the best skilfully balance preservation of the past with seamless updates worthy of five-star ratings. Some still have elderly residents, happy to stay in their freshly restored homes rather than see their village die. The format usually comprises a bunch of guest houses or self-catering options, sometimes a grand rural hotel in what was the castle, then inevitably a café and charming restaurant.