Thursday, June 15
After having spent March and April this year in Athens and Budapest, Christoph and I decided to embark on a new, slightly bigger adventure in May. Working in our normal jobs remotely worked very well for us as long as we have a good internet connection. Since we liked our new everyday life in Athens and Budapest so much, we decided to continue pursuing this lifestyle and combine travelling and working. We sublet our apartment in Hamburg for a year, packed our bags and booked a one-way ticket to Italy.
A few weeks before, in search of an exciting, not too touristy place in Italy, we unexpectedly found the “Wonder Grottole” project. This is a coliving or coworking project in the small village of Grottole in southern Italy in the Basilicata region. The founder of the project is architect Andrea. With his project “Wonder Grottole” he tries to build up a kind of sustainable tourism in the village. He wants to show tourists from all over the world the great place that Grottole is and connect tourists with the villagers. While the city of Matera, 30 km away from Grottole, is now internationally known and popular with tourists, few have even heard of Grottole.
Grottole is a small village with about 2000 inhabitants and is located inland surrounded by green hills and olive groves. Of the approx. 900 small, charming stone houses in the historic village center, over 600 of them are no longer inhabited and are therefore partly dilapidated and overgrown by plants. The cityscape is characterized by countless narrow streets and cobblestone streets made of large, impressive stones. Despite, or maybe because of the many dilapidated buildings in the town centre, the village has its very own charm. For the “Wonder Grottole” project, founder Andrea renovated and converted one of the empty houses in the village.
Now the so-called “Wonder Casa” consists of two bedrooms (+ one en suite bathroom each) and a communal kitchen. The house also has a large roof terrace from which you have a great view of the beautiful surrounding nature. There is also a cozy garden next to the house. The project invites you to rent one of the rooms in the “Wonder Casa” and spend some time in Grottole to get to know the great community of the village. Still in Hamburg we made sure that there was also a good internet connection in the Wonder Casa (after all it was clear that we would have to work normally during the week), Christoph and I were so excited that we rented the Wonder Casa for two weeks straight away. We were thrilled and booked a one way flight to Bari. We really wanted to experience the real, relaxed Italian village life away from the tourist crowds!
The best way to get to Grottole from Germany is to fly to Bari first. From the airport you need to take a train to Bari Central Station which takes about 30 minutes. Having arrived at Bari Central Station you get on another train to Matera, which takes about 2 hours. In Matera you have to catch a bus to Grottole which only leaves twice a day. Once you’re on the bus, you’ll finally reach Grottole after another hour’s drive. You see – Grottole is a bit remote and is therefore still a real insider tip.
When we arrived in Grottole, we were picked up from the bus stop by Michela and her husband Silvio and taken to our new home, the Wonder Casa. While founder of the project Wonder Grottole, Andrea, lives and works in Matera (30 km away), Michela and Silvio are his friends and project partners on site in Grottole. Wonder Casa is located in the historical village center of Grottole on a hill. My illustration here shows the town sign of the village and behind it, on the mountain, the historic town center.