domenica 12 agosto 2012

When the Hotel is the Town: Albergo Diffuso in Italy

In the September 2011 issue of National Geographic Traveler, you’ll probably understand why the article called “The Towns Italy Forgot” caught my eye. Not sure what to expect from an article with that title, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s about the growing “albergo diffuso” trend in Italy.
What’s “albergo diffuso,” you ask? Literally translated, it means “dispersed hotel,” but that definition isn’t exactly illuminating. These “hotels” are essentially apartments or small homes throughout a given town that share one central “reception” desk/office in the town, but are more akin to renting an apartment than staying in a hotel. You get all the convenience of hotel services – including housekeeping services and (depending on the property) restaurants or spa services – but far more individual charm.
There’s a nationwide association for these “alberghi diffusi” (the Associazione Nazionale Alberghi Diffusi, usually just called ADI), and combing through last year’s catalog (this year’s isn’t online, sadly), I found several properties that I wanted to highlight. This type of accommodation is ideally-suited to people who want to feel a bit more independent, want their hotels to feel less cookie-cutter, are looking for ways to get outside the main tourist areas of Italy (and don’t mind renting a car to get there), and love historic buildings (that have been lovingly restored).
From the ADI website’s answer to the question, what is an “albergo diffuso:”
Partly a house and partly a hotel, dedicated to those people who do not like hotel stays; in short, this is a new form of hospitality that takes the name of “Albergo Diffuso.” Its main components are distributed in different buildings, all located in the same village/town. [They] satisfy the tourists’ demand of stays in renowned and famous areas and towns, of contact with residents and local people rather than only with other tourists, and of the traditional comforts offered in hotels, such as room service or a restaurant.

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