The Italian Touch: The Albergo Diffuso

We’ve partnered with Vogue Italia to explore the Italian Touch – the unique Italian attitude towards life, craft and food that makes our country and the people who live in it so special. Today we look at Italy’s innovative Albergo Diffuso movement; the art of creating luxurious and eco-friendly hotels in some of Italy’s most historic and remote locations.

The Albergo Diffuso (AD) is defined as a ‘scattered, decentralized hotel’ - a hospitality concept developed by Professor Giancarlo Dall’Ara aimed at reviving partially abandoned historic centres in the most beautiful old small towns in Italy. It is seen as a kind of sustainable tourism, since nothing is built from scratch and nothing is destroyed, enhancing the value of what is already present. A 100% Italian concept that is now being appreciated abroad and has been exported to Croatia and even to Japan. Here are some of the best AD hotels in Italy:

Albergo Diffuso Torre Soca, Lovere (Bergamo)

Right in the heart of the historic village of Lovere, overlooking Lake Iseo, you’ll find seven apartments hidden in late-Medieval buildings. The reception is located inside the Cafè Caprini and the staff organises guided tours to the small village.

Albergo Diffuso Borgo Santa Caterina, Castiglione di Sicilia (Catania)

Close to Mt Etna and to the Gorges of the Alcantara river, in the heart of the former Jewish quarter (the Giudecca) in Castiglione di Sicilia, this is an AD hotel with a neighboring wine producer where one can savour local products. The owner, Valentino Nunzio, is planning a tourist itinerary in the old Jewish areas of the territory.

Albergo Diffuso Sextantio, Santo Stefano di Sessanio (L’Aquila)

Inside the Gran Sasso National Park, amidst the Monti della Laga, a semi-abandoned medieval village has turned into one of the best AD hotels in Italy offering classic rooms – some located in a former stable – suites and executive suites.

Albergo Diffuso MuntaeCara, Apricale (Imperia)

Between the sea and the mountains, not far away from France, the Apricale medieval village hides Art Nouveau-style frescoed rooms, vintage furnishings and 1800s clawfoot bath tubs.

Albergo diffuso Mannois, Orosei (Nuoro)

In eastern Sardinia you’ll find one of the biggest AD hotels, featuring 19 rooms scattered over three facilities: Sa Corte (the main house), a typical 1800s rural building; Sa Dommo, an old white construction, a little shabby chic in style; and Sa Turre, a charming and mysterious building and the first ever hotel in Orosei, built in the 60s.

La Rocca, Brisighella (Ravenna)

A few steps away from the old via degli asini (the donkey street), this is a totally renewed AD hotel featuring a fantastic wellness area. The restaurant offering typical Emilia dishes is also excellent.

Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, Matera (Matera)

In the “Sassi di Matera”, part of the UNESCO heritage, 18 caves have been turned into rooms alongside a common area created in an old rocky church. Massage treatments are also available inside the caves.

Antica Torre del Nera, Scheggino (Perugia)

Vintage furniture pieces, wooden ceilings and cotto tile floors are featured in the 16 stunning apartments in this little village in the heart of green Umbria. The suites are located along a single road on top of the village, offering a breathtaking view.

Other must-see hotels include the Residenza Sveva, close to the beach in Molise, the Guest House Runcini, entirely crafted from stone in Umbria, and the Hotel Corte Fiorita di Bosa, the first AD hotel in Italy.

This article originally appeared on Vogue Italia.