24 Mayo 2017 16:44
All to alleviate the impact of mass tourism
In recent times, many of the world's most touristic cities have found themselves suffering from what is known as 'Venice syndrome', a term that came into use after a 2012 documentary of the same name exploring the adverse effects of tourism on the Italian city.
But it's not only the 'City of Canals' that has suffered from mass tourism; Barcelona, Berlin, London and Paris are just some of the cities struggling to deal with a never-ending stream of visitors.
Each city is seeking its own solutions. Berlin is attempting to control the rental of apartments to tourists; while in Barcelona, tenants have formed a union to fight against exploitation by developers and property owners. Now, Italy is taking its own unique approach to solving the problem.
The Italian government has decided to give away 103 historic buildings for free. And there's just one condition: whoever gets one of these buildings must convert it into a temple of slow, sustainable tourism.
Slow tourism invites travellers to experience tourism at a reduced pace, to get to know places responsibly and respectfully and enjoy them 'like a local'.
The project was announced by the State Property Agency (SPA) and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage. They have two goals. One is for all these dilapidated and disused private and public buildings to be restored and opened to the public. Their second goal is to help relieve pressure on some of the country's most overcrowded destinations – like Venice – by enticing tourists off the beaten path.
Anyone who successfully applies for one of the 103 picturesque castles, farmhouses and monasteries on offer will be expected to renovate and transform the buildings into sustainable tourist destinations.
The locations are situated along eight historic routes running the breadth of the country, including little-known roads and cycle routes, such as Via Apia: an ancient Roman road that connects Rome with the south of the country; or Via Francesa: an old pilgrimage route that leads from the capital to the northern border.
So, how can you apply to become the owner of a sustainable hotel in Italy?
The scheme calls on applicants to submit a proposal outlining how they intend to transform their preferred building into a tourist attraction. Specific preference will be given to those aged under 40. The deadline for applications is June 26 and work will be expected to commence next summer.
Successful applicants will be given a nine-year contract, renewable for a further nine years.
But if you're not lucky this time, don't feel too downhearted: the Italian government is planning to give away 200 new homes over the next two years.