Want to Work Remotely From Italy? It’s Easy and It’s Surprisingly Affordable

Looking for a detoxifying, regenerative spot in Italy where you can indulge in leisure time but also keep working remotely? The COVID-19 pandemic has had one positive effect over here: it is boosting the appeal of offbeat, quiet, and lovely uncrowded historical villages that are embracing telework to lure travelers, particularly for long stays. Social distancing isn’t an issue in these places and internet connection rocks. Hundreds of hamlets across the boot have been cabled with ultra-high-speed WiFi, so prepare to send emails and reply to your clients from the balcony of a peasant house overlooking olive groves and sheep-grazing hills while sipping a heady glass of red wine and indulging in all sorts of cheeses and cold cuts.


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Imagine a perfect retreat for soul-searching and relaxing, surrounded by pristine nature and oxygen-rich air which will also help boost your productivity. The telework-vacation trend started last year when the pandemic broke out and is bound to grow these months, over summer, and beyond. It may well turn out to be the “new normal.”

A groundbreaking “smart work” network has been launched across Italy with low-cost rentals in under-the-radar spots. Great WiFi in great lodgings with superb views. Locals have teamed up on a platform called Smartway where you can choose between different locations scattered across Italy, and various types of accommodations–be it a rural cottage, a suite in a castle, a grotto-dwelling, or a barn. You just need to register online and start browsing the appealing listings.

Costs are per rented property, not per person. Deals start at €35-€40 per night but there are regular super-super deals if you book for more than two weeks. Long stays tend to be cheaper, and booking in advance for autumn helps you skip the high season summer months. In some cases, the platform will even refund your incoming COVID swab cost.

All properties, in order to be part of the platform, are being rented at 33% less compared to normal prices in the area. And most have “smart rooms” equipped with the office essentials for WFH-ers. All accommodations are located close to shops, bars, and supermarkets. So don’t complain if you run out of coffee because you can just hop down to the bar below your terrace and grab a ristretto, which is a concentrated espresso–a sort of adrenaline shot that will give you the energy to divide the day between fun and duty.

The cool thing is that most of these “smart” villages are unknown even to Italians, with unusual names and a sleepy vibe. Nobody will ever track you down there, just through a video call from your colleagues overseas. Here’s our pick of the best stays, all in the range of €300-€500 per week no matter how many people you are as long as it’s within the maximum capacity of the dwelling.

Macugnaga, Piedmont

In Macugnaga, a secluded Alpine village in the Piedmont region where grazing cows are your morning buddies as you sip a delicious glass of fresh milk on the balcony, you’ll indulge in a bucolic stay that tastes of Arcadia. There’s a cozy two-room apartment in a wooden and stone typical chalet with a French king-size bed and a fully equipped kitchenette. It comes with a library, sauna, and gym. The panorama stretches across the Monte Rosa snow-capped mountain peak and locals, barely 500, speak a German-sounding dialect that has little in common with Italian. Many still dress in traditional Alpine clothes and the only noise breaking the silence is the jingling of cowbells. Cable cars will take you up on glacier slopes and if you’re worried about how the hell to get there, don’t. Milan’s airport is about an hour away by car. The owners won’t make you pay your tourist tax for the first few days, too. 

Gallery: 10 of the Best National Park-Adjacent Airbnbs (Fodor’s)

  • Slide 1 of 11: 10 of the Best National Park-Adjacent Airbnbs

  • Slide 2 of 11: Private Sage Canyon Cliff House

  • Slide 3 of 11: The Winnie A-Frame

  • Slide 4 of 11: 117-Year-Old Cabin

  • Amazing Device Lights Up Countertops And Fixes Dark Kitchens


  • Slide 5 of 11: Blackfoot Cabin

  • Slide 6 of 11: Casa Indian Cove

  • Slide 7 of 11: Kūono at Volcano

  • Slide 8 of 11: Earth Haven Ranch

  • Slide 9 of 11: Luxury Treehouse

  • Knee Surgeons Are Losing It Over These Knee Sleeves (Here’s Why)


  • Slide 10 of 11: The Coziest Log Cabin

  • Slide 11 of 11: A Convertible A-Frame

10 of the Best National Park-Adjacent Airbnbs

The ideal base camps for your National Park adventures.

After you’ve spent a day exploring the natural splendor of America’s National Parks, you’ll want somewhere equally beautiful to rest your head and reflect on everything you’ve just experienced. Whether you prefer the creature comforts of a place to stay or just don’t want to lug around all of your camping equipment, these Airbnbs will allow you to relax while still giving you easy access to the park.

Private Sage Canyon Cliff House

WHERE: Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park is, of course, famous for the Cliff Palace—an incredibly well-preserved network of dwellings that were carved into a stone cliffside and inhabited by the Ancestral Puebloans from approximately 1190 until around 1300 when they were abandoned. So why not stay somewhere that takes direct inspiration from this remarkable site? The design of this cabin in Cortez (approximately a 15-minute drive from the entrance of the park) beautifully evokes the Cliff Palace. This house is built directly into a red rock wall for a striking effect whether you’re relaxing in front of the fireplace or washing off the day. This alone would make it a remarkable base for your Mesa Verde National Park visit but, as an added bonus, the property also homes a collection of centuries’ old petroglyphs.

The Winnie A-Frame

WHERE: Yosemite National Park

This A-frame house is exactly the kind of place you want to come back to after a full day exploring Yosemite. It’s set among a verdant copse of trees (that looks like a literal dreamscape under a fluffy blanket of snow). The exterior is classic, A-frame style. But then the interior is contemporary and stylish with several spots to cozy up with a cup of tea in the evening.

117-Year-Old Cabin

WHERE: Rocky Mountain National Park

This incredible and restored cabin that was originally built in 1914 puts you in the heart of the Rocky Mountain National Park experience. Located in Estes Lake and walking distance from the boundary of the National Park, guests have easy access to fishing and wildlife spotting (as in elk and bears) as well as an incredible view of Hallet Peak from the deck. It’s the rare, welcome Airbnb experience where you’re not just getting back to nature, you’re stepping back in time.

Blackfoot Cabin

WHERE: Glacier National Park

This rustic cabin is located just nine miles from the west entrance of Glacier National Park. It’s an ideal setting for hunkering down amid the snow in the winter. In the summer, you can add Lake McDonald to your itinerary for a great spot to go for a swim and cool down during the day.

Casa Indian Cove

WHERE: Joshua Tree National Park

All National Parks are, of course, photogenic. But there’s something especially striking about Joshua Tree that can turn the most camera-adverse visitor into a full-blown shutterbug. So it seems fitting that your accommodations should be equally Instagram-friendly. This house , located just 15 minutes from the Twentynine Palms entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, is the stuff that all your stylish desert dreams are made of.

Kūono at Volcano

WHERE: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

This stunning house is not far from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The design of the exterior is at once sleek and modern while not looking out of step with the natural beauty of the Ohia trees that make up its surroundings. It’s the perfect sanctuary for unwinding at the end of the day, whether you’re soaking in the hot tub, warming up by the fire pit, or gazing out at the forest from the comfort of a plush bed.

Earth Haven Ranch

WHERE: Great Sand Dunes National Park

One of the great things about staying at an Airbnb is that you’re getting a unique experience, and this dome house turns up the novelty volume to a delightful degree. This house was designed using sustainable materials, intending to transport guests somewhere completely new and different. You’ll spend so much time enjoying this uniquely cozy space you might forget to head to Great Dunes National Park.

Luxury Treehouse

WHERE: Congaree National Park

This Airbnb combines the whimsical playfulness of a treehouse with the luxe creature comforts of a luxury hotel—and all of it is a mere (approximate) half-hour from Congaree National Park. So after an exciting day exploring the park, you’ll be able to relax in well-appointed style, and maybe even enjoy a dinner beside the fire pit to boot.

The Coziest Log Cabin

WHERE: Lassen National Park

This log cabin near Lassen National Park fulfills every item on the cozy cabin checklist. Woodburning stove? Check. Hammocks? Check. Adirondacks chairs under twinkly string lights? Check! Plus, all of this is located on three private, picturesque acres so you can enjoy the tranquility of nature in perfect, quiet solitude.

A Convertible A-Frame

WHERE: Zion National Park

When you imagine leaving the hustle and bustle of modern life behind for a simpler, closer-to-nature existence, your dreams may look a lot like this Airbnb. This A-frame (which can be opened up to let light and fresh air in) is situated amongst a beautiful swath of nature where you’re close to wildflower fields, hiking trails, and incredible stargazing.

Castelmezzano, Basilicata

How about the thrill of sleeping on an open-air rocky natural sanctuary? Castelmezzano, in the deep Basilicata region, is built on the gigantic pointed crags of the so-called Southern Dolomites that offer dramatic scenery. Alongside awesome activities for extreme sports lovers in search of an adrenaline rush to make their telework more exciting. The “Angel Flight” ties you with a metal harness to a steel cable running from Castelmezzano’s highest peak to that of the nearby village of Pietrapertosa over sharp pinnacles and hairpin road bends. Village houses here are carved from the grayish-brown mountain flanks. You’ll be staying in an ancient farmer grotto-house recently restyled with big rocks jutting out of thick walls, ancient wooden furniture, artisan objects hanging on walls, dome-shaped ceilings, and a shower inside a cave. The kitchen has beech and olive wood tops, and an old fireplace great for barbecues. From the balcony the view is unique: it looks like the ragged peaks are trying to get inside the living room. Oh, and you even have Netflix, just in case you get bored. 

Monte Rubiaglio, Umbria

Imagine instead feeling like the king of your own private fortress while you work on that special project on which you’ve been stuck since Christmas, finally finding inspiration in a charming village in Umbria with just 600 residents. In Monte Rubiaglio, a one-hour drive from the Eternal City, you can sleep in a three-floor panoramic medieval castle tower with two bedrooms with antique furniture. Great for a solo stay or in the company of up to five friends, it’ll be like living an Italian fairy tale. The windows overlook both sides of the castle, the internal courtyard with an old well and the reddish tile rooftops of the village dwellings clustered at the feet of the fortress, set high on the hillside. A narrow spiral staircase leads to the turret with a little fireplace and two beds, great for evening drinks where there’s a 360-degree panorama of the green rolling hills and the Paglia river valley. The armory room and ancient library recreate a sort of Game of Thrones ambiance. Thermal baths, vineyards, deep woods, and olive trees dot the surroundings. Each morning, stop by the bakery for fresh cornetti filled with Nutella.

Matera, Basilicata

If you’ve always wanted to visit the spellbinding UNESCO World Heritage site of Matera but were scared away by the expensive resorts, there’s a fantastic deal here, too. A 75-square meter dazzling white grotto studio in the heart of the historical Sassi district has vaulted ceilings with sticking-out yellowish stones that look like rock altars and natural terra-cotta floors. There’s also a minuscule secret courtyard where you can sip a martini in utter privacy. The Sassi neighborhood is mesmerizing, with layers upon layers of cropped stony homes, and it’s shaped like a topsy-turvy funnel with rock clefts and holes. For centuries, ever since prehistoric times, families lived inside caves that have now been turned into stylish dwellings where there’s a primitive, mystical vibe. LED lights illuminate peasant furniture and artisan decorations. 

Other Incredible Spots

Spending a week or two in a stable is another exciting way to detox from daily stress, albeit while keeping plugged to the internet (if needed for work, of course). In the Tuscan village of Pergine Valdarno, the old meets the new world. Stays are inside the old barn and granary of a historical wine estate manor with red brick ceilings, wooden floors, stone walls, and a jacuzzi right in the middle of the living room. There’s even a medieval hostel where pilgrims and merchants stopped to rest. While in the wine heaven of Montepulciano there’s a small stone cottage dating back to the 1660s, tucked away in the silent narrow alleys with cute bright windows covered in flowery plants.

But what about sea lovers who can’t give up on the sun and beaches? There is a  wide choice of deals there too. In Badolato, a charming coastal town in Calabria, you can opt for a loft in the historical center with a panoramic terrace overlooking the nearby baby powder beaches and translucent water. Indiana Jones archaeology freaks will find their remote-work heaven in an old stone dwelling in the hamlet of Acquavella, located within the pristine Cilento Park of the Campania region. Close to the archaeological site of Paestum and to the VIP beaches of Capo Palinuro, the location allows you to tour the wonderful area and take in the best of what it has to offer. In all Smartway locations, there are tailored services including baby-sitter, experiential tours like pasta-making, food delivery, private cabs, and wellness–upon request, that is. And you’re often gifted with coupons just by answering surveys.

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