This Italian region is becoming a paradise for digital nomads

From a castle where the WiFi setup was a battle against medieval walls to a completely free beach bar, vacation destinations around Italy’s northern region of Emilia Romagna offer services to attract workers to distance.

A garden office

From a shaded table in the garden of B&B Accademia al Colle, the teleworker can lift his eyes from his laptop to contemplate the city of Bologna sprawled out beneath him like a mannequin. “Welcome to the office”, jokes Andrea Babbi, who assists his wife Daniela Ciccardi in the management of the accommodation. Ciccardi offers four apartments with kitchen, terrace and terrace. There are many places around the property to work, such as in the shade of fig trees or from a hammock hung between two trunks. This summer, the phenomenon of remote work on their property took off, starting with Ciccardi and Babbi’s own children who studied for college degrees from the garden. They also welcomed a Milanese writer who stayed for several weeks, a Dutch couple combining work and travel and even Bolognese in search of a change of scenery from their home office.

Ciccardi is one of many guest accommodation owners who have found remote workers to be a successful addition to his clientele, especially amid coronavirus regulations restricting travel. Claudia Valentini, public relations manager at the Emilia-Romagna region tourism office, says the phenomenon is due to the year-round appeal of the region and the variety of attractions. There is a lot of culture available in cities like Bologna and Parma, and the area is generally considered to be one of the best for food – it is the birthplace of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Parma ham, tortellini, and mortadella. “We take the best of Made in Italy while working, it is more about a different (or better!) Way of life”, explains Valentini.

Work by the pool

Pre-COVID, remote working – or “smart work” as it is called in Italy – was not on many people’s radar, aside from the somewhat nebulous concept of the “digital nomad”. Now the popularity of the phenomenon means that it has become much easier to travel without eating precious vacation days. At Villaggio La Pescaccia, for example, near the coastal town of Riccione, guests can seamlessly switch between work and vacation mode.

The hotel’s shaded terrace is a cool, quiet place to work during the day, with well-placed outlets. The same goes for the seating areas outside the bungalows and villas spread throughout the property. The complex is also covered by Wi-Fi so remote workers can even take their laptops to the pool. Then all that remains is to slip the work equipment into a bag and the worker gets ready for the day, ready to swim in the pool in the late afternoon, to have a massage in the nearby tent or to take a hot bath before dinner. bathtub.

Take the laptop to the beach

The ultimate image of the digital nomadic fantasy is often found on a paradise beach with palm trees and turquoise water. While Emilia Romagna’s coastline may not be as utopian as an island in the Caribbean, a beach allows remote workers to enjoy the space completely for free. The free Zona Cesarini beach offers a gazebo and a lounge area where you can install your laptop and stay as long as you need. The kiosk provides refreshments, although guests are not required to purchase food or drink to use the tables.

The president of the bathing establishments in the region, Simone Battistoni, points to her colleague sitting at another table typing on her laptop. “It’s a really free and easy environment,” he says, “many workers found the atmosphere there to be the perfect one. The entire 7 km coastline also offers free Wi-Fi, which Battistoni said was “no easy undertaking”.

Château Conferences

Beaches and holiday villages can be a bit too busy for some lone workers, in which case a medieval castle in a small hamlet may be more suitable. Castello di Compiano, near the Ligurian coast, dominates the village of Compiano, which is designated as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. The chateau’s 14 rooms don’t have great Wi-Fi – blame those big stone walls – but the rambling interior spaces and expansive gardens provide ample workspaces with good internet connection and allow you to tell your colleagues by videoconference that you “speak from the pool room”, for example.

For a break from work, a guide can take you on a 1 hour tour of the castle which is also a fascinating potted history of everything from aristocratic families in Italy to Napoleon to oriental art and finally the lodge. masonic. Unfortunately, you cannot work remotely on the Louis XIV desk of the last owner. The conservation of the castle by the last owner has made it a sort of Wunderkammer with Persian rugs, a traveling Buddhist shrine, fans by Pauline Napoleon, gilded cherubs from churches, ceramics from France and copies of classical sculptures.

Post-work rewards

Although the castle has an on-site restaurant, I chose to explore a bit of the local cuisine that Valentini from the tourist office suggested to attract remote workers from the nearby Il Cielo di Strela agriturismo. Chef Mario Marini produces and cooks dishes that merge Ligurian and Parma traditions. I taste pancetta and coppa, two cold cuts, which he makes himself on the farm. The ravioli are stuffed with home-grown potatoes and garnished with basil pesto from the garden. Marini also touches on old fashioned historical dishes. His Vitello Tonnato, a popular dish of cold slices of veal in a tuna-mayonnaise sauce, instead uses slices of roast pork to reflect meat that would have been available in the past. It seems to me that Marini’s eco-friendly accommodation would also be a productive remote work retreat.

Remote working is of course not for everyone and for all types of work. If a day’s work occupies a guest until the evening, it might seem a little pointless to shell out for a hotel to only enjoy it after dinner time. But those with a little more flexibility in their work schedule – and a resilience against distractions like swimming pools and spas – can design a workweek in Emilia-Romagna that is a serious upgrade from the office at work. residence.

About Andrew Miller

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