The Italian Sabbatical

To save the Italian village of Grottole we invited people from all over the world to move to Southern Italy and volunteer to revitalize the village that is at risk of disappearing

More than 280.000 people applied and 5 candidates were selected to become temporary citizens of Grottole

The Italian Sabbatical

Meet the Volunteers


Aged 24, is a Filipino photographer with extensive volunteering experience. She holds a degree in agriculture and has lived in Melbourne since the age of 17.


Aged 62, is a former project manager with Abruzzese roots. He has discovered a passion for teaching foreign languages and now dedicates himself to this full-time.


Aged 45, is a cultural guide from Canada. She grew up in a houseboat in British Columbia until she was 7. Today Helena works in tourism, introducing travellers to tango in Argentina.


Aged 61, is a former New York firefighter. He recently learnt that his grandparents came from Grottole.


Aged 36, is a software engineer and host on Airbnb. He has Italian roots but was born and raised in Buenos Aires. This will be Pablo's first experience living outside a city.

The Volunteers: A Day in the Life

A Day in Grottole A Day in Grottole

See what a typical day in the village looks like.

Italian Sabbatical: One Month In Italian Sabbatical: One Month In

Discover the Italian Sabbatical through the eyes of the volunteers.

Meet the Volunteers Meet the Volunteers

Get to know the five adventurers who are making a big impact on a small village.

Discover Grottole

Hover over the hotspots below to discover the different parts of the Grottole village.
1. The Feudal Castle – Grottole is dominated by a castle linked to the legend of Abufina, who lost her life while trying to join her lover Selepino, crossing the Basento river. Some say it still echoes her name.
2. The communal vegetable garden – This green space is an edible garden the community tends together, but also a place for socializing. This is one of the places where the participants of the Italian Sabbatical will volunteer with Wonder Grottole.
3. Rione delle cantine – Grottole features many caves scattered around the old town, in a neighborhood called ‘L' I-rutt’. What are today cellars used to keep wine, once served as the homes of the first inhabitants of this land.
4. Bar Zolletta – Bar Zolletta is at the heart of the village’s social life, the perfect place to go when you are not meeting anyone at all: drop in and you’re sure to find a friendly soul to chat with.
5. San Rocco Church – This church was dedicated to Santa Maria la Grotta (grotta meaning ‘cave’): the original structure incorporated a cave. It was later dedicated to San Rocco after the plague that struck the area in 1655.
6. Main Church – This church - dedicated to Santa Maria - is located in one of the highest points of Grottole. With its imposing structure, you can always spot its belltower wherever you are in town.
7. Chiesa Diruta – The Church of Saints Luca and Giuliano is located in the center of Grottole and was the town’s main church - built in the early 1500s. Mostly in ruins, it is still striking and evocative.
8. Centro della Creatività – The Cultural Center of Grottole is dedicated to the Italian movie director, screenplay writer, translator and theater critic Gerardo Guerrieri (Matera, February 4th 1920 – Rome, April 24th 1986).
9. Ceramic Museum – This location in the old town is a tribute to local craftsmanship, with a focus in this site on ceramic production. The workshops employ techniques that are rooted in thousands of years of history.
10. The four viewpoints – Enjoy 4 viewpoints: the castle overlooks the old town; Piazza Gerardo Guerrieri overlooks the Basento River Valley; Serritello overlooks Terravecchia, the first residential settlement of the community;'N cap la serra overlooks the neighborhood "L' I-rutt".
11. Coste Forest – Along the hillside that overlooks the Bradano, you’ll find a beautiful forest, Le Coste. In the forest you’ll also find an agritourism to relax and enjoy the space, with benches and cabins.
12. Community Center Italian Sabbatical – Here you can discover the Italian Sabbatical project, promoted by Airbnb and Wonder Grottole, and meet the initiative’s five key volunteers, as well as Grottole’s inhabitants. This is the place to dive into local culture!

The Italian Sabbatical

Airbnb is sponsoring a unique opportunity for four people to move to the small village of Grottole for three months and experience authentic rural life in Italy. Selected candidates will become temporary citizens of the village and will volunteer for a local non-profit organisation called “Wonder Grottole” whose aim is to revitalize the town’s historical centre.

For the full terms and conditions for the Italian Sabbatical, click here. For the Selection Rules, Terms of Use, and the Privacy and Cookies Policy, click the relevant links. For translated versions of the Selection Rules, see the following: Dutch · French · German · Italian · Japanese · Portuguese · Spanish (Latin America) · Spanish (Spain)