Good morning, it's Monday 8th February and we head into a new week. On the news front, the main story in terms of tourism is around the ski resorts potentially opening a week from today. This will apply to all of the alpine resorts of the north, apart from those in the South Tyrol Province which include Ortisei and Selva di Val Gardena among others.
The rest of the current media surrounds the new incoming prime minister, and of course the latest details around Covid 19 and the vaccination rollout. Yesterday there were 11,641 new cases, while the overall number of people currently infected dropped by the minuscule number of 10, down to 427,024.
As I'm from the UK, it's interesting for me that the numbers are now very similar between the two countries on a daily basis. It wasn't long ago that there were at least double the number of new cases each day in the UK compared to Italy, so could these be the first signs that the UK's advanced vaccination programme is starting to have an effect?
Another little snippet of news caught my attention over the past few days. The village of Troina in Sicily is offering a selected number of homes for just €1, in an effort to boost dwindling population numbers. Along with the cheap purchase price comes a booty of €25,000 to be used for purposes of renovation. Similar projects have been been offered in the past: one was another village in Sicily called Sambuca di Sicilia and others came from the region of Molise.
Another eye-catching scheme was recently proposed in the village of Santa Fiora Amiata in Tuscany where reduced rents were available for people who work from home using the internet. Santa Fiora backed up the scheme by improving its internet capability in an effort to become a "Smart Village", a term used to encourage remote working.
Of course there are always caveats and conditions associated with the schemes outlined above but they do offer some opportunities and it's good to see some of these rural locations thinking outside the box in order to find solutions for their local economies.
The three villages mentioned above are coincidentally all members of an association called I Borghi Più Belli d'Italia, "Italy's Most Beautiful Villages". A borgo is usually an historic village or hill town, often providing some of the most captivating images of Italy.
This is a subject that's been close to my heart since I started the Italy Review project: I first started to notice the Borghi Più Belli as I was travelling around Italy taking photos, and at a certain point decided I had to visit them all. There are in excess of 300 of these villages and while at certain times I have been able to say I've been to all of them, that little accolade regularly slips from my grasp as new ones are being added all the time. Still, going to discover the new ones isn't the worst way to spend one's time and it's always good fun to see what they have to offer.
For today's images I've included the three borghi mentioned above, along with a few other personal favourites: Rango in Trentino Alto Adige/South Tyrol, Chianale in Piedmont and Finalborgo in Liguria. I'll be back with another update tomorrow.
My name is Dion Protani, founder of Italy Review. The Italy Review blog is designed to provide ideas and inspiration to visit places in Italy you might not have heard about, as well those you have.