When we talk about sustainable and responsible tourism, we basically mean new forms of touristic accommodation that can combine, on the one hand, the need to create unique and authentic experiences and, on the other, the commitment to ensure the enhancement and promotion of a territory and the traditions that characterize it.
The so-called albergo diffuso represents an original Italian model of hospitality, born with the aim of developing and giving a new face to tourism in historic centers and small villages scattered throughout our beautiful peninsula.
Despite the fact that similar forms of hospitality already existed in the world for some time, it was just in the 1980s that Giancarlo Dall’Ara (professor of tourism marketing and president of the International Association of Alberghi Diffusi) decided to develop a new, all-Italian model drawing inspiration from the so-called Ryokan. Ryokan is the name used to refer to the traditional inns of Japan that typically feature tatami-matted rooms and common baths. They offer guests the chance to enjoy traditional Japanese cusine, along with other customs, and can be considered a symbol of the Omonetashi, the ancient philosophy of Japanese hospitality.
The system of alberghi diffusi was created with the aim of constituting a real engine for the development of a network of people and social resources in a given area. As such, it can be considered an authentic model of hospitality made in Italy capable of revitalizing small and charming Italian villages (borghi) thanks to the rediscovery of customs and traditions handed down from generation to generation, the revival of typical food and wine traditions and local crafts, as well as the creation of events and initiatives aimed at enhancing the historical and natural resources of a location. The albergo diffuso also represents a key element able to improve the image of the village in which it is located and to increase its exposure in the Italian and international panorama.
So let’s see what exactly an albergo diffuso is.
It is important to emphasize the fact that you cannot actually “build” an albergo diffuso, because it is the result of measures taken to restore and renovate houses, buildings and pre-existing structures (usually close to each other or reachable by short walking distances) that are adapted and reorganized in order to create an original circuit of hospitality.
Upon their arrival in the village, the guests are welcomed in the reception building where they can carry out the standard registration procedures and receive the key to their room, along with the map to reach it. From here on, the guests are free to wander through the narrow streets of the historic center, stop for a chat in the square and fully immerse themselves in a suggestive atmosphere. Thanks to the local community involvement (another key success factor of the albergo diffuso) the visitors have the chance to interact directly with the town-dwellers, enjoy a meal with them and feel as members of the local community themselves.
In Liguria, Munta e Cara in Apricale and Relais del Maro in Borgomaro are two perfect examples of albergo diffuso in the heart of the Imperia hinterland. Once here, the guests will have the opportunity to discover the identity of the village through the scents and flavors of typical regional food and beverage products at km 0. It will also be possible to attend cooking classes with local chefs, and try different activities like yoga in the quiet valleys surrounding the town or adrenaline-filled trails among the waterfalls of the Ligurian Alps. To conclude, the so-called albergo diffuso represents the perfect formula that combines rural traditions, extraordinary landscapes with the philosophy of Italian hospitality.