Alberghi diffusi

The "diffuse hotel" phenomenon in Italy

Santo Stefano in Sessanio is home to the albergo Diffuso Sextantio
Santo Stefano in Sessanio in the Abruzzi mountains is home to the albergo diffuso Sextantio.
The albergo diffuso phenomenon is a new one, a way to rescue crumbling medieval villages and historic but half-abandoned neighborhoods of ancient cities while simultaneously breathing new life into the local economy, transforming many of the empty houses into a “diffuse hotel” in which the guest rooms are intermingled with the houses of village residents.

Simply put, a "diffuse hotel" is one where there is a central reception desk, but not a single building housing the hotel. Instead, the hotel's "rooms" are scattered around a neighborhood or entire town.

The person living next door to you might be another tourist, but could just as easily be a local Carabinieri officer, or the guy who runs the shop downstairs, the barrista from the cafe the corner, or a little old lady who sits in her doorway, shelling peas or knitting, blessing you with a wide smile each time you pass.

In other words, it's a way of sampling the Italian way of life for a night or two. (And there often is a two-night or three-night minimum.)

Where can I find an albergo diffuso in Italy?

A recent article in La Repubblica, one of Italy’s leading newspapers, counted roughly 200 alberghi diffusi throughout Italy, though only 76 hew to the ideals mixing preservation and hospitality, and of those only 35 are officially accredited (thanks in part to the fact that accreditation is a regional matter, and many regions have yet to acknowledge albergo diffuso as a category).

There is more about the phenomenon at The National Association of Diffuse Hotels (; the site is in Italian but does link to 18 excellent alberghi diffusi from Sicily to the Alps.

Here are a few of my own favorites—the prices are daily rates for a double room, except as noted:

  • Sextantio, Abruzzi
    Perhaps the postcard example of an albergo diffuso, a medieval mountain town in the Gran Sasso National Park of the Abruzzi, two hours east of Rome.
    tel. +39-0862-899-112 or fax. +39-0862-899-656,, from €120 (from €75 online). » book » more
  • TrullIdea, Puglia
    Fifteen genuine trulli (the prehistoric conical houses for which this area is famous) in the UNESCO-protected historic center of Alberobello, the region’s main town.
    tel. +39-080-432-3860,, from €99. » book » more
  • Borgo dei Corsi, Tuscany
    Classy Tuscan apartments available for weekly rentals (or as little as two nights, if bookedonline) in Raggiolo, an ancient feudal stone village in the heavily forested Casentino mountains just northeast of Florence.
    tel. +39-0575-514-428,, from €400 per week (from €60 per night online). » book
  • Corte Fiorita, Sardegna
    Twenty-six rooms, some overlooking the Temo River, installed in several pastel houses of the fortified Sardinian town of Bosa.
    tel. +39-0785-377-058,, from $84 (€60). » book
  • Forgaria Monte Prat, Friuli
    Forty apartments, houses, and chalets distributed among several villages on the high Alpine plain of Monte Prat in the eastern Friulian Dolomite Mountains near the border with Austria.
    tel. +39-0427-809-091,, from €63 apt, €83 house (from €56 online). » book
  • La Casella, Umbria
    A rural take on the albergo diffuso, with 32 lodgings in several 19th-century houses dispersed over a 1,112-acre valley along the Tuscany-Umbria border near Orvieto. There’s also a spa and an equestrian resort.
    tel. +39-0763-86-684,, from €200, including dinner (from €130 online). » book
  • Sotto le Cummerse, Puglia
    Ten apartments with kitchenettes, A/C, and TV-DVDs, in the historic center of Locorotondo, a whitewashed Apulian town famous for its wine and views over the storybook Valle d’Itria.
    tel. +39-080-431-3298,, from €88 (from €80 online). » book
  • Val di Kam, Sicily
    Apartments and villas in the Agrigento hinterlands where ancient Sician kings once ruled (and, according to legend, King Minos was murdered), including a dozen rooms in Sant’Angelo Muxaro, a primeval Sicilian village atop a sheer chalk hill that once served as an ancient necropolis. Hint: request the pranzo diffuso, a moveable breakfast feast from 9:30 to noon where you visit the shepherd for fresh cheeses, the baker for bread and oil, and end in a courtyard with a spread of pastries and other delectables.
    tel. +39-0922-919-670 or tel. +39-339-530-5989,, from €20 per person


Tips & links

Alberghi diffusi links & resources
Other lodging links & resources
Useful Italian
Useful Italian phrases and terms for lodging

English (Inglese) Italian (Italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...a hotel un albergo oon al-BEAR-go
...a B&B un bed-and-breakfast oon bet hand BREK-fust
...a rental room un'affittacamera oon ah-feet-ah-CAH-mair-ra apartment for rent un appartamento oon ah-part-tah-MENT-toh
...a farm stay un agriturismo oon ah-gree-tour-EES-moh
...a hostel un ostello oon oh-STEHL-loh
How much is...? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
a single room una singola OO-nah SEEN-go-la
double room for single use [will often be offered if singles are unavailable] doppia uso singola DOPE-pee-ya OO-so SEEN-go-la
a double room with two beds una doppia con due letti OO-nah DOPE-pee-ya cone DOO-way LET-tee
a double room with one big bed una matrimoniale OO-nah mat-tree-moan-nee-YAAL-lay
triple room una tripla OO-nah TREE-plah
with private bathroom con bagno cone BAHN-yoh
without private bathroom senza bagno [they might say con bagno in comune—"with a communal bath"] SEN-zah BAHN-yoh
for one night per una notte pair OO-nah NOH-tay
for two nights per due notti pair DOO-way NOH-tee
for three nights per tre notti pair tray NOH-tee
Is breakfast included? É incluso la prima colazione? ay in-CLOO-soh lah PREE-mah coal-laht-zee-YOAN-nay
Is there WiFi? C'é WiFi? chay WHY-fy?
May I see the room? Posso vedere la camera? POH-soh veh-DAIR-eh lah CAH-mair-rah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Is there a cheaper one? C'é una più economica? chay OO-nah pew eh-ko-NO-mee-kah

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