Houses in Grottole
Monday, June 19
Grottole has been inhabited since prehistoric times. As the Appian Way passes through Grottole, the village was once a hub of people and business from the north-south route. Today only about 2000 people live in the whole village. In the historic center of the village there are now just living about 300 people. At the same time, there are around 600 houses in the historic village center alone that have been abandoned.
Over the last sixty years, more and more villagers have left Grottole to find work in larger cities or abroad. This led to a rapid depopularization of Grottole, especially of the historic center. Back in Grottole, the uninhabited houses remained, which are suddenly no longer maintained and are therefore gradually falling into ruin. Some of the houses are sold, but more often the vacant houses cannot be sold because it cannot be clarified to which family the house belonged in the first place as a lot of the owners of the abandoned houses moved away or deceased. The population in the village is dwindling, which means that much of the local culture is gradually being lost.
The aim of the “Wonder Grottole” project is to build a form of sustainable tourism in order to revive the village and build a new community that lives in harmony with the local population and everyone learns from each other. For this purpose, project founder Andrea converted and renovated one of the empty houses in the historic city center. In the house there are two rooms that are being rented out to tourists or people who work remotely. The project wants the tourists to become part of the local community in Grottole themselves and tries to avoid a strict separation between tourists and the village community. The villagers of Grottole should also be involved in the project and pass on their knowledge to visitors. Tourism in Grottole should also support the local people. In the “Wonder Grottole” project, visitors have the opportunity (in addition to renting a room) to book individual afternoon activities organized by villagers. With these so-called “experiences” you as a visitor gain a very special insight into everyday village life. For example, they offer a “bee tour”: In this tour, you accompany Rocco, the beekeeper in the village, to his bees, learn everything about honey and end the tour with a honey tasting. Or you could book the wine tour, where you learn from Silvio how wine is first grown and then how the grapes are made into natural wine. During our time in Grottole, Christoph and I took part in several experiences and were thrilled each time. For us it was a unique opportunity to get to know the history, culture and residents of the village by the villagers themselves!
One of our favorite things to do in Grottole was to take a walk through the many small streets in Grottole after work and admire the impressive houses – whether inhabited or derelict. The blue wooden door in my illustration is very close to our accommodation. The dilapidated houses in Grottole have their very own charm and despite the falling plaster you can still see how beautiful and special these houses once were.
Walking through the village, however, one can also imagine how bad and sad it must be for the villagers to see how their hometown is gradually being abandoned. Therefore, Christoph and I are big fans of the “Wonder Grottole” project and can confirm that living in Grottole and getting to know the villagers is a unique experience!