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Molise, Italy
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This Italian village is offering travellers free accommodation this summer

You can bag a free week-long stay in San Giovanni between July and September 2020

Ellie Walker-Arnott
Written by
Ellie Walker-Arnott

Dreaming about spending the summer exploring Italy’s sun-soaked beaches, lush countryside and incredible restaurants? Now that the country has reopened its borders to tourists, that could soon become a reality. 

There are plenty of added incentives to book a trip to Italy this year. Sicily, for example, has pledged to subsidise your flights if you holiday there this year. And now a tiny village in Molise – an area in southern Italy – is offering travellers a week of free accommodation if they stay there this summer. 

San Giovanni is one of the Italian towns that is struggling with depopulation. A lot of people have moved away, leaving many houses in the town empty. There’s been a spate of examples of places like this selling buildings to newcomers for bargain prices, like this Italian town that is currently selling abandoned buildings for €1. But San Giovanni is trying a different tactic. 

To encourage visitors, the town is offering 40 one-week stays between July and September this year. Tourists will stay in one of three empty homes in the village. 

‘Due to decades of emigration from Molise, there are houses in village centres that have been lying empty for years,’ Enzo Luogo, who came up with the scheme, told The Telegraph

‘These are beautiful but depopulated villages that don't have any tourist accommodation to begin with, so we thought: how can we help revive our historic villages, while also encouraging visitors during these difficult times, when tourism is at an all-time low?’

The aim is to entice travellers to explore the surrounding area of Molise, which isn’t well known as a tourist destination. We’re not sure why it isn’t, though. The region has a stretch of Adriatic coastline and encompasses part of Italy’s Abruzzo National Park. It’s also well positioned for day trips to Rome and Naples

So how do you get a free holiday here? Anyone can apply, as long as they don’t already live in Molise or have relatives who do. You just have to fill out a form (find out more here) explaining why you want to visit – and it shouldn’t be hard to come up with a set of compelling reasons.

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