It’s very possible you’ve never heard of Sambuca, Italy. It’s not a place made famous by Instagram, nor a place filled with any particular industry that would lure in the crowds. It’s a spot that’s barely a speck on the map, located some 42 miles (67.5 km) southwest of Palermo on the island of Sicily, with fewer than 6,000 permanent residents. But it’s a spot worth knowing, especially if you’re into slow travel — and even more so if you’re into Airbnbs. By Stacey Leasca
My experience of staying in the 1 Euro villa in Sicily, Italy
In 2019, Sambuca di Sicilia gained internet notoriety thanks to its decision to sell dilapidated homes for just 1 euro. The plan was meant to encourage international investment and to help restore this lovely little village to its former glory. One of the lucky buyers happened to be none other than Airbnb, which scooped up a property to rent out. The peer-to-peer home rental giant is not only ready to unveil its creation to the world, but it’s doing so with the help of the Lastra family, who won a free, year-long stay at the house and will now act as host to world travellers looking to get to know Sambuca too. They gave us a little peek at what the family and guests are in for with a weekend stay at the home before anyone else arrived.
“The project is part of a wider Airbnb commitment to support rural communities and cultural heritage in Europe,” a spokesperson for Airbnb told Travel + Leisure via e-mail. “With the growing flexibility to work and live from anywhere, this unique Sicilian home offers a stylish yet sustainable setting for remote working — we feel it is the perfect symbol of how changing work and travel trends can breathe new life into a community.”
Coming to Sambuca felt a little like falling off the face of the earth and into another dimension. The road from Palermo quickly thins of houses, making way for verdant landscapes with rolling pastures on either side. The further you get from the city, the fewer humans you’ll see, replaced instead with friendly cows and the odd sheep herd or two blocking the road. But unlike most traffic jams, this one’s a welcome sight, introducing a calm, slowed-down approach that only enhances as you make your way to the renovated Airbnb.
The home sits at the top of town, just behind the massive church, which acts as the centre of life in Sambuca. Next to the church sits an unassuming but wildly delicious pizza restaurant visitors will want to return to over and over again.
The home’s exterior blends seamlessly into the neighbouring properties, but upon entering the doors, it’s easy to see the extent of the work put in by architects and designers Studio Didea, an architectural firm based in Palermo.
The interior design combines contemporary items with local, artisanal elements. It includes lighting by designs brands Lambert & Fils and Marset, furniture by CC Tapis, E15, and MDF Italia, and technical fixtures and fittings by Bulthaup, Kos, Smeg, and Zucchetti. It’s chic but in no way overdone, allowing the views out the windows to be the star of the show from the downstairs bedroom, the upstairs office, the living area, and the lofted second bed atop that.
“This home reflects the ‘Italian way’ of design culture, capable of combining the country’s rich artisan tradition with an aspiration that is often fiercely opposed to modernity,” an Airbnb spokesperson explained.
It’s a space where the Lastra family will undoubtedly make themselves at home and invite guests to do the same.
“We are easy-going and down-to-earth people who love to share and learn, so our guests can expect nothing but a warm welcome from us,” Eva Lastra said. “We would love to share cool spots to check out and also aid them in discovering the delicious Sicilian gastronomy with a touch of ‘French culture.’ And maybe a yoga class or two.”
In town, the family can help guests head out for tours of neighbouring ricotta farms, go for wine tastings at Sicily’s beloved Planeta Winery, and even try their hand at wild foraging (the area is a stellar spot to hunt down wild asparagus).
“We are looking forward to exploring the landscapes, indulging in the local cuisine, and trying the lifestyle and change of pace Sambuca will provide for us,” Lastra said. “We also know that Sicilians are very family-oriented, so this was a huge cherry on top for us.”
Ready to join them? Book a stay with the Lastra family to explore Sambuca for yourself, starting at USD 68 (INR 5,385)/night, here.
This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com
(Main and Feature Image Credit: Courtesy of Airbnb)