I always keep an eye on various awards in the tourism industry as it is a great way to find out about the best places to stay in Italy, tours and destinations that I might not know about. To my delight, the Italian group of travel trade press organised the National Green Travel Awards. The jury looked at hotels, B&Bs, farm houses that offer sustainable stays for tourists with minimal impact on the environment and with the slow travel philosophy in mind. Here are the winners.
The best green farm stay (agriturismo)
Oasi di biodiversità Galbusera Bianca in Lombardy, is more of a tiny 14th century village, only 40km from Milan. Gaetano Besano, a fashion photographer from Milan, renovated it using bio-architectural techniques and turned it into an organic bio-dynamic farm with woods, hills, streams, its own vineyard, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens. The farm is in the heart of the Montevecchia regional park and there are some stunning nature walks around. The food in the farm’s tavern (osteria) is all organic and locally produced. The place is a real treat for a responsible traveler!
The best green B&B
Residenza d’epoca Borgoriccio, near Salerno, Campania, is a historical residence situated in the Cilento National Park. The owner, Angela Riccio de Braud, a Milanese architect, restored the house with recovered and salvaged materials to its former splendour. 400 olive trees that surround the house produce delicious organic olive oil. Although I am not entirely sure how a swimming pool and Jacuzzi fit in the sustainable and environmentally friendly philosophy, Borgoriccio seems like a charming hideaway for those who like a touch of luxury.
The best green hotel
Tirler Dolomites Living Hotel, Alto Adige, is nested in the Swiss Apls and offers stunning panoramic views. This family-owned hotel is built using local materials such as Dolomites rocks, larch woods and Swiss pinewood. In the woods nearby you can enjoy a barefoot walk on the specially designed path. I am sure it was an easy choice for the jury as the hotel has already received numerous awards for its respect for nature and ecological building guidelines.
The best camping village
As far as large camping sites go, Union Lido in Cavallino, near Venice, is at the top of sustainability: bio-architecture principles are respected throughout, the structures are powered with solar energy and surrounded by 60 hectares of woodlands, and there is a Blue Flag beach. It is certainly not my cup of tea with over 2500 (!!!) pitches for tents and caravan campers and additional hotel spaces. However, Union Lido sets a great example for other mega-size camping villages. Their eco-glamping units look good and, although steeply priced at 220 euro per night, they attract a lot of people!