Plans are in place to turn many of Italy's disused historic buildings into top hotels in a bid to attract tourists and help thwart national debt.
The Italian agency of public property is in talks with private companies and hotels in Italy who will soon be able to lease some of country's more interesting architectural spots. Sites included in the list of government assets up for hire range from a former army base in Parma to a one-time prison on the island of Ventotene; a seaside castle in Gaeta to private Venetian islands. The Telegraph newspaper has reported on the developments, for which some negotiations have already begun. Domenico Arcuri from Invitalia, a company championing the strategy, said that Italy's position when it comes to tourism had been slipping over the past three decades, but he hopes these new renovation opportunities will help change things. "...We have been overtaken by other countries. We plan to reverse that trend and to make use of these heritage buildings, which have an immense value" he said. This won't be the first time historic bolt-holes have opened their doors for holidaymakers in Italy. Accommodation options already up and running include former convents such as four-star Kolbe or Donna Camilla Sevelli hotels in Rome, plus Capo-Spartivento, a lighthouse turned boutique hotel on the Sardinian coast. Italy, which typically attracts 45 million tourists annually, is following in the footsteps of Spain. The Spanish conversion of buildings like monasteries and palaces into luxury accommodation, known as Paradores, has appealed to international tourists. Image sources:1, 2, 3