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This Italian Village Is Offering Tourists A Week-Long Summer Holiday For Free

Your dream of spending a week holidaying for free in Italy this Euro summer just came true (provided you can source a flight out of Australia, of course) thanks to a clever offer luring tourists to this undiscovered area post-COVID-19.

By now you’re no stranger to Italian villages selling €1 homes in a bid to entice new blood to their depopulated regions, but a post-COVID world demands a pivot. Molise in south-central Italy’s answer? Offering seven-night free stays to tourists this summer.

The clever initiative called ‘Regalati il Molise’ (meaning ‘Gift yourself Molise’) makes use of the empty traditional homes in the town of San Giovanni in Galdo left by younger people emigrating to the big smokes like Rome and Milan.

They’re offering 40 one-week stays from July through October 3, 2020 – basically European summer. There’s one-, two- and three-bedroom villas available.

 

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The project was conceived by local activist Enzo Luongo, who tells The Telegraph: “These are beautiful but depopulated villages that don’t have any tourist accommodation to begin with, so we thought: how can we help revive our historic villages, while also encouraging visitors during these difficult times when tourism is at an all-time low?”

They’re hoping once there, you get out and explore the (tbh, stunning) region and indulge in food, wine and all that good stuff, injecting some much-needed tourist cash into the forgotten town.

 

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And here’s the thing: Molise is kinda hard done by. It’s an area that the rest of Italy pokes fun at for… not existing. Yep. Many Italians either haven’t heard of Molise or ever visited. There are even Facebook Groups (like ‘Molisn’t’) that share lame memes and joke that Molise isn’t real. If that isn’t reason enough to head to this area, I don’t know what is.

To apply, all you have to do is fill out this form, not be a resident of Molise or have family that live or own property in the region.

The form also asks for your reasons for wanting to stay. Need some ideas, I mean, other than helping the little region that could reestablish itself in Italy?

“Those who make the pilgrimage have discovered one of the most spectacular parts of the country and its youngest region,” explains the NY Times, who include Molise as #37 of 52 places to visit in 2020.

It’s been dubbed ‘Italy’s best-kept secret’ and offers something increasingly rare: undiscovered, traditional Italy. It is the definition of the cliche ‘off the beaten path’.

Just two hours from both Rome and Naples, the region of Molise begins at the Adriatic coastlines and sweeps inland towards the Apennine mountains. That means day trips, beach time, skiing and exploring traditional villages are all on the menu.

 

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“Among the draws: Roman settlements like Saepinum (a complex of baths and a forum that rivals those in Italy’s capital, but without the crowds); a pristine coastline that includes towns like Termoli, overlooking the Adriatic, with a Swabian castle; and mountains like Campitello Matese, home to a wide network of slopes for skiers,” says NY Times.

“Hikers will also want to explore the routes of transumanza, the centuries-old tracks, along which sheep and oxen were herded, from Abruzzo through Molise into Puglia in the colder months.”

Sounds alright.

 

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If you’re keen on going as a group, up to five people can be part of one application. Be quick though; hundreds of people have applied already. Forza Molise!

Check out the application form here.

When you’re there, be sure to check out this interactive pasta map of Italy and the best day trips in the south. And if you needed any more motivation, here’s a reminder of how much overseas trips can cost you.

(Lead Image: Instagram / @franco_cappellari_photographer / @nicola.cordisco)