We created Italy’s first digital nomad community in a rural village. That’s what we learned.

When we came across the rural village of Tursi in January 2022, we knew we were onto something.

With a coworking space inside a converted 16th century monasterythis Italian idyll was the perfect place to launch our start-up.

Our vision? To bring digital nomad communities to our country undiscovered gems.

A digital nomad project in a remote Italian village

Tursi’s unique coworking space is owned by Tursi Digital Nomads, a local association, and it’s located in Basilicata, a beautiful region in southern Italy still relatively unknown to Italians and foreigners alike.

We made our first visit on a cold winter day. The building was empty but we could really see our community work of these beautiful rooms and take coffee breaks on the terrace overlooking the green valley below.

As we bid farewell to association president Salvatore Gulfo, we don’t know exactly what’s next, but we know we’re on to something.

Breathe life into the sleepy old town of Tursi

Tursi ticks a lot of boxes for our digital nomad town. He’s a lovely old town nestled in a picturesque rural setting. It’s off the beaten path, which means less tourists and more authenticity. And, of course, there is a nice ready-to-use coworking space, provided by the local municipality.

Fortunately, the locals are enthusiastic about the project. Residents of Tursi believe remote workers can bring the village’s sleepy old town to life. So we decide to team up with Tursi Digital Nomads and start planning.

The challenges of bringing digital nomads to a remote village

Although he has many of the right ingredients for our project, Tursi is by no means perfect. A major challenge emerges.

ask anyone digital nomad what they are looking for in a destination in the first place, and they will say without hesitation “reliable internet”. Not only reliable but fast and readily available. Although we have an old town full of Houses to repopulate, most of them do not have a stable internet connection.

After countless hours of planning meetings, calls with ISPs, and conversations with landlords, we manage to secure enough homes and equip them with wifi.

We are finally ready to welcome our community of digital nomads – or quite ready, at least.

A total of 19 digital nomads from 13 countries participated

Our first Tursi nomad arrived in early June. Over the next six weeks, the community grew, bringing diversity to the small town.

In total, we hosted 19 digital nomads from 13 countries: Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italythe Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romaniathe UK and the UNITED STATES.

Fears that our community might be bored in such a small place were quickly dispelled. Every week we organize a full list of events and activities – aptitude sessions in the local park, cozy dinners, coffee and happy hours in the main square (lots of them), weekends to explore Basilicata and much more.

At the end of the pilot, we asked our community what they enjoyed most about the experience. The verdict is unanimous: the authenticity of the village and the friendliness of the local community.

What our digital nomad project in Tursi taught us

After the success of our first project, we left with five key points to set up a digital nomad community.

1. Build bridges and facilitate exchanges

Many digital nomads want to surround themselves with an international community community, but they also value an authentic experience. Facilitate links with Locals and their cultivation is essential.

2. Engage the local community

Building strong relationships with local residents and businesses – before and during our project – has been integral to our success. Our friends from Tursi not only helped us with groceries, introduced us to the best of Basilicata, and gave us tips on where to eat (and where not to eat), but they supported our project because we taking into account their needs.

3. Engage with multiple stakeholders for long-term success

Establishing a long-term digital nomad community in a remote village with infrastructure challenges requires careful planning, long-term thinking, and close collaboration with private actors and local government.

4. Don’t dwell on perfection

Building digital nomad communities in remote places is difficult and not everything will be perfect from day one. We have learned to be okay with that.

5. It’s all about people

In the end, what made our project a success was the community and the people. Do this part well and you will be halfway to success!

About the authors

Serna Chironna and Andrea Mammoliti are co-founders of KINO, a start-up bringing communities of digital nomads and remote workers to Italy’s hidden gems. You can follow KINO and keep up to date with future projects on their instagram page.

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