This Italian Village Is Giving Away Free Vacations to Kickstart Tourism

San Giovanni is located in southern Italy's Molise region in the Campobasso hills.

Molise Region of Southern Italy | Shutterstock
Molise Region of Southern Italy | Shutterstock

As the world slowly returns to some semblance of normalcy, destinations across the globe are turning to incentive programs to lure back travelers. While Thailand and Curaçao are tempting out-of-towners with hotel promos, a village in the southern region of Italy is doing one better and offering an entire week of vacation for free.

San Giovanni in Galdo, which is located in the Molise region's Campobasso hills, about two hours from Rome, has a rather humble population of 553 residents. Last year, Molise was included on the New York Times' list of 52 Places to Visit (virtually).

Looking to expand its tourism horizons, last year, the village's cultural organization Amici del Morrutto, began offering free trips to bring in visitors. It just rebooted the program, dubbed 'Give Yourself Molise.' 

Between July and October 2020, 40 lucky winners will be put up in local homes for a week, entirely for free. 

"Due to decades of emigration from Molise, there are houses in village centers that have been lying empty for years," local activist and journalist Enzo Luogo, who is behind the idea, told The Telegraph last year. "These are beautiful but depopulated villages that don't have any tourist accommodation to begin with, so we thought: how can we help revive our historic villages, while also encouraging visitors during these difficult times when tourism is at an all-time low?"

Applications are officially open on the site for this year, but you might need a little help from Google Translate to properly fill them out. 

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.