#ItaliaDalDivano: Visit Italy Virtually (From Your Couch)

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Italy has been inspiring the world through its creativity and resilience. Whether its live-streaming concerts on our balconies, cooking with celebrities in our kitchens or watching the Pope give mass to an empty St. Peter’s Square, we’ve been able to create community and share through our phones. And thanks to #ItaliaDalDivano, we’ve also been able to visit Italy virtually from the comfort of our own sofa.

#ItaliaDalDivano, or “Italy from the Couch”, is a project created by Alessandro Candini and Omar Pancani to help promote digital tourism during a time when we’re required to stay home or shelter in place. Alex and Omar have traveled the world together for the past 13 years and created Voiago in 2018, a travel platform that designs private vacations and group tours. Omar is a professional travel specialist for Uvet, a leading Italian travel company, while Alex is a social media expert who works in fitness & fashion, so their background in travel and digital communication made them well-suited to design curated travel experiences.

“When the lockdown first started, we wondered: What can we do to help Italy, to help the tourism sector during this difficult time?” says Alex. “The project started as a joke when I posted a virtual tour in Liguria on Instagram and received great feedback from my followers, asking me to share more virtual trips. So Omar and I we decided to create a digital format that would help promote travel in Italy and bring together our friends – other Instagrammers, journalists and content creators – who inspired us with their work.”

Their friend Luca Boscardin, a toy designer and illustrator, designed the graphics for the project: two illustrations used at the beginning and end each Instagram Story. Since the beginning of the lockdown, #ItaliaDalDivano has reached tens of thousands of people online and piqued interest around the globe. “Everyone is really excited about the project because the virtual trips are beautiful and heartfelt. People really need a form of escapism during this time,” explains Alex.

“Digital tourism is so important right now: firstly, because it’s the only way we can travel at the moment. But also, because we need to keep the tourism sector alive – it’s been one of the hardest hit industries due to the coronavirus and will suffer an inevitable backlash in the coming months,” he explains.

Tourism is one of the main industries in Italy and represents roughly 13% of its GDP. Last year, travel and tourism generated 237.8 billion euros, according to Statista. “It sounds dramatic, and I don’t want to incite more fear, but a lot of businesses in the industry will have to close because of this crisis, so it’s vital to boost the sector in any way we can.”

Since it first kicked off on March 22, #ItaliaDalDivano has covered dozens of cities and regions across Italy, from famous destinations like Rome, Venice and Bologna, to off-the-beaten-path areas like Valle d’Itria in Puglia, the Calanchi Mountains of Basilicata and the shoreline of Le Marche. There’s also been a notable emphasis on summer destinations like the Aeolian Islands, Pantelleria and Ischia as we keep our fingers crossed for travel later this year.

“Through #ItaliaDalDivano, we wanted to show Italians and international travelers how much there is to discover in Italy. Italians tend to be campanilisti, very tied to their territory, and travel more abroad than in their own country, so we wanted to inspire them by showing areas they might not be familiar with,” says Alex. “I’ve received so many messages of support during this project but the ones that touch me the most are people telling me I helped them discover a place they didn’t know. There are so many under-appreciated sites in our country and there’s never been a better time to promote them.”

The Virtual Visits

  1. Val d’Orcia – @voiago
  2. Puglia – @manuelavitulli
  3. Alta Badia – @alta_badia_official
  4. Gubbio – @paolobalsamo
  5. Palermo – @valentina.raffaelli
  6. Venice – @marcovalmarana
  7. Sardinia – @cera_una_bolla
  8. Naples – @ciropipoli
  9. Abruzzo – @gate_309
  10. Lipari – @matt_nc
  11. Le Marche – @fraintesa
  12. Modena – @mymodenadiary
  13. Matera – @manuelavitulli
  14. Bologna – @paolobalsamo
  15. Salina – @voiago
  16. Rome – @liviahengel
  17. Calabria – @valentina.raffaelli
  18. Genova – @gate_309
  19. Senigallia – @stefifre
  20. Basilicata – @sminchilli
  21. Pantelleria – @foodmakersicilia
  22. Trentino – @fraintesa
  23. Ischia – @personalitaly
  24. Lago di Garda (north) – @ragoutfood
  25. Valle d’Itria – @manuelavitulli
  26. Milan – @marcovalmarana
  27. Amalfi Coast – @valentina.raffaelli
  28. Syracuse – @voiago
  29. Favignana – @gate_309
  30. Capri – @liviahengel
  31. Ustica – @foodmakersicilia
  32. Val di Fassa – @ragoutfood
  33. Lago di Garda (south) – @stefifre
  34. Filicudi – @matt_nc
  35. Salento – @sminchilli
  36. Molise – @valentinaraffaelli
  37. Taranto – @manuelavitulli
  38. Biella – @ragoutfood
  39. Epilogue – @voiago
  40. The End!
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