Italy: Airbnb offers free one-year stay in Sicily

Airbnb offers a chance to live rent-free as a host in Sicily for one year.

Airbnb, the online short-term rental platform, is offering a free one-year stay in a newly-refurbished property in the small rural village of Sambuca in Sicily.

The winning applicant, who can take up to three family members or friends with them, must rent out one of the house's rooms on Airbnb but they can keep the profits.

Awarded the title of "the most beautiful Italian village" in 2016, Sambuca di Sicilia has around 6,000 inhabitants and is located about 80 km south of Palermo.

The formerly abandoned property was bought by Airbnb as part of Sambuca’s €1 house campaign, launched in 2018 to address the village's declining population by promoting cultural heritage and sustainable tourism.

The Airbnb property is available from 30 June

The campaign has breathed new life into the village which has become a multi-ethnic community, with 143 properties sold (by both local authorities and private individuals) to families from 38 countries around the world, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

Airbnb says the refitted home "combines the needs of contemporary living with the charm of Sicilian architecture."

The fully furnished three-storey house is located near the Belvedere di Sambuca, which overlooks the Belìce Valley.

Those interested must apply by 18 February

"The beauty of this initiative is that it gives new life to an abandoned heritage home in the heart of our village as well as a second chance to the person who will move here,’ the mayor of Sambuca di Sicilia, Leonardo Ciaccio, told ANSA.

The mayor said the successful applicant should want to immerse themselves in the local culture, customs and language of the community, including taking part in the grape harvest and picking olives.

The house will be available from 30 June and applicants must apply by 18 February via the Airbnb website, which contains full details of the offer.

Applicants will be asked to attach a short essay outlining how they would organise their life in Sicily and how they would see themselves as a host, "sharing a private room of your Sicilian house with guests coming from all around the world."

Cover photo: Temple of Concordia, Agrigento, Sicily.