Nestled in the verdant mountains of southern Switzerland’s Verzasca valley, the tiny village of Corippo looks like it sprung straight from a fairytale. With its 17th century church and centuries-old buildings made of local granite and slate roofs, the country’s smallest municipality is bursting with charm. But as progress moves on, the viability of some places gets left behind – such has been the fate of Corippo.
At the height of its heyday, the village boasted 294 households. But with agricultural resources growing increasingly scarce, that number has dwindled to just 12 residents today. And 11 of them are over the age of 65. The only economic enterprise left in the town is a single rustic restaurant.
But then the town got a fairy godmother, of sorts, in the guise of the local foundation, Fondazione Corippo 1975. The foundation is raising money to turn the whole town into the country’s first “albergo diffuso,” or scattered hotel. The model has already met with success in Italy, and it will turn approximately 30 of the town’s 70 buildings into vacation cottages and hotel rooms.
Fabio Giacomazzi, an architect and president of the foundation, says that the reincarnation of the village will give travelers “the chance to experience a very particular sojourn in a genuine rural village that remained practically the same since 1800.”
The revitalization will take place in three phases and is expected to cost about $6.5 million. The restaurant will be expanded to become the hotel’s dining room, the public squares will become community spaces, and a mill and bakery will be renovated as well. There will be new landscaping and the reintroduction of goat farming, in addition to rye, hemp and chestnut trees, reports CNN.
With a new heartbeat in the village, permanent resident numbers could be boosted as well; there are also plans to bring craft traders to the area to make it even more dynamic.
Here at TreeHugger we always say that the greenest building is the one that has already been built; this obviously applies to entire fairytale villages as well. How wonderful to be preventing an imminent ghost town, preserving some gorgeous vernacular architecture, and creating a “slow travel” experience for people looking to enjoy some village-like living and the resplendent nature of the area.
The first cottage to be completed is Casa Arcotti and is now open for guests – it sleeps four and costs CHF128 ($133) per night.
The complete hotel is slated to open around Easter 2020. In the meantime, I’ll be checking to see if they need a full-time resident writer to report on the goats.