I had never heard of the term albergo diffuso until I discovered that I was staying in one a few years ago in Italy. What I thought to be an agriturismo was in actuality an albergo diffuso. You’re probably thinking, “What is an albergo diffuso anyway?”
Loosely translated the term means “scattered hotel.” I was surprised to learn that it is not a new concept, but rather has existed since the early 80s. The idea began in Italy as a way of providing accommodations to tourists in small villages and towns. The rooms usually are situated in a number of different buildings near each other. They do not necessarily have to be on the same property.
The intent of an albergo diffuso is to offer the traveler an authentic experience of living in a village and having contact with the local people instead of only with other travelers. It also serves the community by adding hotel accommodations at a cost considerably less than building a new hotel. The rooms are typically decorated in a way to maintain the local flavor, and meals are usually served with the same goal.
The organization known as the National Association of Alberghi Diffusi has set up criteria for these accommodations. Currently there are more than 40 of these alberghi diffusi in Italy with plans for 100 additional properties. Here are some of the guidelines for an albergo diffuso.
• For the purpose of protecting the historic architecture.
• Zero tolerance for “any new building that interrupts the integrity of the landscape
• Must maintain the original use, form and materials of the original structure
• Replacement materials must come from the local area
• As much as possible retain traces of life uncovered in the building as this is a symbol of village life
• Furnishings should keep with traditions of the area and be made by local artisans to maintain authenticity
• Use local material to reflect the colors and textures identified with the particular village
• Maintain the minimalist concept in bathrooms to not betray the
• Vital to the concept is not to add new construction
I have had the pleasure of staying in an albergo diffuso in the very small village of Colle d’Anchise in the region of Molise. This is the village of my paternal grandparents and I frankly would not have thought that a town so small would even have a hotel.
Antonella Baratta, a distant cousin of mine who lives there told me about it, and after emailing the owner, Signor Michele, in Italian, I secured reservations here.
This was one of the best places I have stayed in Italy and the cost was unbelievably low. From the size of the rooms, the beauty of the property, the friendliness of the staff and the wonderful regional food at the restaurant I cannot say enough about La Piana dei Mulini.
In fact I am staying there again in a few weeks when I return to Colle d’Anchise to visit my Italian family, so stay tuned for updates and more photos.
If you have the opportunity to stay at an albergo diffuso on your next visit to Italy, I would highly recommend it.I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
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Kia (Chiara Ruggeri)
The Albergo Diffuso is really a great idea, for sooo many reasons! First of all, you are like a new inhabitant of the village, because you live in a normal house and not in an hotel 🙂
I’m writing my master thesis about the Albergo Diffuso, and I really want to experience it as soon as I can!
Photo Snapshots from Molise | margieinitaly
[…] was my fourth time here and I would highly recommend it. formerly an old woolen mill, this “albergo diffuso” is a welcome reprieve from the frenzy of larger cities like Naples, Rome, or Venice. Here […]
Suzette | TrySomethingFun.com
I think the concept of an albergo diffuso is exactly what I’m looking for when I visit Italy. If only there were an online way to search these places, or something like an Italian B&B. I better start looking! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the post! I think this is a cool idea of hotel accommodations giving travelers a more personable and homely fill while spending time in Italy. It is my hope to visit one day!
What a great idea.
An Englishwoman in Italy
Sounds like a really good idea. A self styled albergo diffuso has recently opened in Corinaldo, but it is not really what you describe – rather, it is two hotels in different parts of town, owned by the same person, and linked so that there is one dining room for both hotels and one reception for both hotels. The guests have to walk from one hotel to the other to check in, and they sleep in one place and dine in the other.
That really looks like a fantastic concept! One definitely on the list to explore.
Margie, I love this! I hadn’t heard of this type of lodging until now, but will look into it as we continue to travel. XO
Great Heather. I like to support the local communities in Italy and I must say the pricing is reasonable. The rooms were so large I could hardly believe I was in Italy.
What a great idea. Keeps the historic value and beloved history without demolishing the old and putting up new and often not “eye appealing” structures. I know we don’t have the history in Edmonton, Alberta,Canada that Italy has,however,the city does not even try t keep any historic buildings and it constantly tearing them down to put up towers and such. Thank you so much for sharing your information. Love it! I can tell you are really enjoying yourself. I am enjoying your blogs.Thankyou Sabrina Bell
Thanks so much Sabrina for taking time out to read and comment on my post. I agree and even the US is quick to tear down buildings to put up something new.
Sounds like an incredible experience. Enjoy!
Too bad the entire world is not as civilized as Italy is. Protecting the local ambiance for all to share is a wonderful thing. Not to mention beautiful as the pictures show.
Thank you so much Bonnie – I am glad you are feeling better, enough to read and comment here.. Take care of yourself my friend
Thanks Margie. I love staying in agriturismi but I’ll now lookout for an albergo diffuso when we are planning our next trip.
I think you will find it a pleasant experience! Thanks for all your support
i think those pictures were cool i like italy i like pisa and rome and pompeii and venice. have you been to those places? take care. love connie
Thank you Connie – and yes I like all those places you mentioned and have been to them all too!!
Okay, I have to ask, what is the first picture? Are those umbrellas? Tents? Giant towels? I can’t tell what they are even after enlarging the picture. 🙁
Ruth – Great question – I can see why you ask..I think they are umbrellas that they open during the summertime when it is hot. I have not been there to see them open.
This looks so wonderfully authentic!
Thanks Gloria – It is a wonderful place in a peaceful setting.
I’m so glad that you enjoyed your albergo diffuso experience! I stayed in two of them last year in Emilia-Romagna. I haven’t stopped raving about how wonderful they were. In fact, I’ll be mentioning them in yet another post coming soon. The albergo diffuso in Colle d’Anchise looks lovely as does the town itself.
Grazie Cathy – I will look forward to reading your post soon. The village is small but the ambience is wonderful as are the friendly local people.
This looks so wonderfully authentic!
Sounds like an excellent idea and, given that there are so many empty but traditional buildings in remote areas of Italy, as the few young people move to places of potential work, it provides a solid reason for doing them up. A bit like Air B&B but molto tradizionale.
Yes Francesca – I couldn’t have said it better!! Grazie
thank you for the link and this great tip! since i only take the train in italy, i have missed out on all the agriturismi, but perhaps one of these listing will be closer to the train station!
I hope so – Check them out. This one is in a town that has no train station but I am sure others have stations…