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The rural coliving experience as told by a remote worker

At the end of 2022 we had the pleasure of hosting Capucine and Wilko in our residence, two wonderful people who have integrated perfectly into the community of Grottole (Matera) and with whom we have formed a beautiful human relationship. Capucine is a seamstress in life and we talked about her sabbatical in Italy in this article. Wilko, on the other hand, decided to spend a few months as a remote worker in Grottole, and we asked him to answer some questions about his experience.

Hi Wilko, what do you do in life and what led you to spend a period of your life in Grottole?

I live in Hamburg, in northern Germany. I was born and raised in Hamburg, and after living in other places for about 12 years, I decided to come back. I am 42 years old and work as a product designer for a company that has several Internet portals throughout Europe, where you can offer, rent and buy houses and apartments-places to live, not just for vacation. In the summer of 2022 my employer introduced a very flexible work policy, which allows us to work from anywhere within the EU for a couple of months a year. In addition, for the past several years I have been planning and preparing with about 35 people to build a house to live in on the outskirts of Hamburg. This project is about 2 years behind schedule. The original plan was to move into this new house this year, but we have not even started building it. As a temporary alternative, I started looking for a place where I could stay and work for a few weeks, being part of a community. I found Wonder Grottole on a web platform where you can find suitable housing for people working remotely. I read about Wonder Grottole and said to myself, that sounds very promising. It might be just what I was looking for. Let’s try it.

You spent a month in Grottole as a remote worker, was it your first experience in a small town?

Yes, Grottole is by far the smallest village I have ever experienced. My hometown of Hamburg has about 1.8 million inhabitants. I have lived in a couple of different cities in my life, but never in a place with less than 100,000 inhabitants.

What are your favorite things about Grottole?

There are several things about Grottole that I really liked. I liked the fact that life in Grottole is a little slower. No one ever seems to be in a hurry. I liked the fact that the group of people who run Wonder Grottole put a lot of effort into connecting you with the local community. They don’t just write about it or talk about it, they actually do it! I really liked the fact that even though it’s a small town, you don’t have to leave Grottole if you need a supermarket, a bakery, a butcher shop, a bar, a restaurant, a pharmacy, a post office. Everything is there. I really liked the many points in the village from which you can enjoy extraordinary views. I really liked the fact that living in Grottole is affordable, not only compared to Hamburg, but also compared to most places in Europe. I also really liked the fact that I never met any other Germans in Grottole.

What do you think of the community in Grottole?

If you read that there are 600 abandoned houses in the historic center of a village that has no more than 2,000 inhabitants in total, you might expect a depressive atmosphere. One might expect to meet many locals who do not like living in their hometown and want to leave Grottole as soon as possible. This is not the case. At least during my short stay, I did not meet a single person who was blatantly unhappy living there. They like living in Grottole. Some move to other places in the course of their lives. But you meet many people who decide to return to live there.

Would you recommend Grottole as a destination for remote workers and digital nomads?

I liked Grottole very much. In fact, I decided to extend my stay for another month. So I would definitely recommend it to all remote workers. To be honest: being my first remote work destination, I cannot compare with other places. All I can say is: If you want to enjoy a great place to work and the warmth of southern Italy while becoming a temporary resident of a small village, this is the place for you. It will serve you well if you are open to the unexpected. Example: It was not my goal to learn a new language. I thought it was possible to always communicate in English and not know a single word of Italian. After a couple of days I realized that it would not work. It is possible, but it is difficult to find people who speak English in Grottole. So I tried to learn basic Italian to understand a little more.

Thank you for your contribution Wilko!

Wilko’s experience in Grottole was lived to the fullest, with a mutual exchange with the Grottole community, which despite the language hurdle passed on its living culture: a slower, but lively lifestyle linked to the seasons and local traditions. This is an intangible heritage that Wonder Grottole preserves and promotes in its authenticity. If you want to try to immerse yourself in the culture of a small town in southern Italy, contact us.