The picturesque village of Corippo in Ticino’s Verzasca Valley is officially Switzerland’s smallest municipality, boasting 14 permanent residents and historic architecture. To secure its future a foundation now wants to turn the tiny rural village into an albergo diffuso or ‘scattered hotel’. Its first guest room should be ready in spring 2018.
“The traditional houses with their stone roofs have remained pretty much unchanged since the beginning of the 20th century and they are surrounded by a countryside which is largely untouched," explains Fabio Giacomazzi, an architect and president of the Corippo Foundation 1975.
The mountain village of Corippo, situated near Locarno in the Italian-speaking part of southern Switzerland, once had 300 inhabitants. But over the past two centuries, it has been slowly abandoned by the younger generation. By 1975, local farming had almost died out. Today, only 14 people live in the village.
The local authorities have fought hard to try to stop the decline and to bring the village back to life. In 1975, Corippo won a preservation award as part of the European Year for the Preservation of Monuments and Cultural Heritage. This led to the creation of the Corippo Foundation.
The foundation’s latest idea to save the village is a ‘scattered hotel’ concept, which aims at finding a sustainable way to save historic locations like Corippo through tourism. The principle is that rooms, decorated in an authentic and local style, are scattered throughout different buildings within the village.
Corippo’s village restaurant will serve as a reception for the hotel rooms, a central meeting point and a dining room. The squares in front of the town hall and the village church will become open-air meeting places.
In June, Corippo won the Swiss hotel and restaurant association Gastrosuisse’s “Hotel Innovation Award” for its concept.
If all goes to plan, an old mill, a public bakery and a room to dry chestnuts will also be renovated. And rye and hemp farming, chestnut trees and goat farming will contribute towards revitalizing the local environment.
But the entire project comes with a CHF6 million ($6.16 million) price tag, which has not yet been fully funded.
Despite this, the organisers are hopeful that the recent Gastrosuisse prize will have a certain pull-effect.
“Since winning the prize, people have contacted us to book a room. But this hotel doesn’t yet exist,” said Giacomazzi.
If Corippo’s albergo diffuso does finally get off the ground, it will be the first such scheme in Switzerland. In Italy, meanwhile, around 100 similar projects exist, as well as a national association, which oversees a quality label.