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    Hosts help their guests connect with nature in rural Italy

    Sharing their manor, ancient tower, and Experiences lets them celebrate the land.
    By Airbnb on Mar 11, 2021
    3 min read
    Updated Apr 28, 2021

    Highlights

    • The couple began hosting rooms in their countryside manor to diversify their earnings

    • They also started hosting cooking Experiences to share local ingredients and techniques

    • They’ve since restored a 15th century tower where guests can immerse themselves in nature

    Airbnb Superhost Alessandra and her husband, Raffaele, have many passions, from organic permaculture and cooking to restoring historic structures. Those passions used to be hobbies, but when they discovered hosting on Airbnb, those hobbies became a business.

    It started in 2016 when the couple bought a 16th century countryside manor in Boretto, Italy, on the banks of the river Po in the UNESCO-designated Po Grande Biosphere Reserve. Alessandra had grown up nearby and Raffaele came from bustling Milan. Working at a social media firm he’d helped start, they moved to the manor to reconnect with nature.

    They thought hosting a private room on Airbnb might allow them to diversify their income while sharing their breathtaking landscape. Soon hosting became another passion—and full-time work.

    “The success with Airbnb right from the beginning gave us the courage to change our lives and start this new business of hosting, which was really exciting for us,” Alessandra says.

    “The success with Airbnb right from the beginning gave us the courage to change our lives.”
    Alessandra, Superhost,
    Boretto, Italy

    Sharing their land, and the culture that thrives on it

    Alessandra and Raffaele soon added two more private rooms and three cooking classes through Airbnb Experiences. These diverse offerings allow them to share the beauty and history of their land alongside the techniques and ingredients of their culture’s long love affair with food.

    For Alessandra, a passionate cook whose mother was a chef in a top local restaurant, hosting cooking classes was the perfect way to connect her guests to the region’s rich heritage.

    Alessandra teaches traditional techniques—handed down from her grandmother and mother—to make tortelli, gnocchi, and tiramisu. She shares the fruits of her garden, including green pumpkin, and local products like the famous Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and traditional balsamic vinegar D.O.P. Both originate from Alessandra's hometown, Reggio Emilia.

    “We like local ingredients, the history of our food, and the history of our wine” Raffaele says. “It’s very, very tasty.”

    Hosting, they say, lets them celebrate the natural world while connecting their guests to centuries-old traditions in the rural landscape. Why not add something truly unique?

    Moving on up

    In 2014, Alessandra and Raffaele had bought a historic lookout tower 50 miles away. Largely unchanged since it was erected on the site of an ancient Celtic village in the 1400s, they finished restoring it in 2019. Built on a hilltop with views of the Modena Apennines, they say the tower is a magical place to unwind—perfect for Airbnb.

    Raffaele drives 90 minutes from Boretto to the tower to offer guests a ride in his 4x4 to climb the final 200 yards from the main road. He then explains the amenities: solar power to charge devices, candles to light the interior, a wood stove to heat it, and an outdoor shower, faucet, and composting toilet.

    Finally, he gives a private tour of the 2.5-acre property and offers a beer. (They’ve just begun offering a virtual tour of the tower as well.)

    Their guests are enthralled, calling it “a magical experience” and “going back to basics in the best possible way.” They can see deer, wolves, foxes, and eagles. One reviewer describes foraging for chestnuts and roasting them over an open fire. A starry sky provides a powerful backdrop.

    “Staying in our tower is like staying in another time,” Raffaele says. “You are so close to nature, to the quiet. You can sit in the silence, and stay at home with candles. It’s an otherworldly feeling.”

    Living the life they love

    In the four years since they began hosting rooms in their countryside manor, Alessandra and Raffaele say they couldn’t have made a better decision.

    They have more time to enjoy nature with their 10-year-old son and their two cats and two dogs. And hosting revolves around the passions that fulfill them, from gardening and cooking to preserving their culture’s traditions in a breathtaking natural landscape.

    “There cannot be, for our personal needs and characteristics, better work. It allows us to meet different people every day from all over the world and spend a lot of time with our son in the midst of nature.”

    “There cannot be, for our personal needs and characteristics, better work. It allows us to meet different people every day from all over the world and spend a lot of time with our son in the midst of nature.”
    Alessandra, Superhost,
    Boretto, Italy

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    Highlights

    • The couple began hosting rooms in their countryside manor to diversify their earnings

    • They also started hosting cooking Experiences to share local ingredients and techniques

    • They’ve since restored a 15th century tower where guests can immerse themselves in nature

    Airbnb
    Mar 11, 2021
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