Airbnb partners with the IED in Florence to promote Isolotto, Novoli and Rifredi neighborhoods

Great news from Florence! We’ve just launched a new collaboration with the European Institute of Design (IED) to encourage students to think up creative ways to promote outer neighborhoods in the city.

Third-year students, during their two-week project, analyzed how Airbnb Experiences, together with homes, could promote Florence’s suburbs.

Each year IED dedicates the fortnight, called Special Week, to interdisciplinary projects with external companies during which students from fashion, management, visual communication and design courses work together on a single project. The topics for Special Week come from the participating companies that present a brief on which their work will be based. It’s a great way for the students to face challenges while working in a team.

Airbnb’s brief was to encourage the students to think of new ways to promote three outer neighborhoods in Florence, specifically Isolotto, Novoli and Rifredi. Thanks to an idea thought of together with Florence Municipality, the work IED and Airbnb focused on was the neighborhoods along the new tramway. Launched in 2010, the infrastructure is expanding with the line 2 and 3 to Novoli and Rifredi.

With new infrastructure expanding to these neighborhoods in 2018, they’re becoming more and more connected and the aim of the project was to come up with new and interesting ways to increase tourism to these often undiscovered locations, outside the historic center.

The first week

The first approach focused on the three neighborhoods and their history, on today’s urban evolution and on an in-depth study of their characteristics, such as meeting points, type of population, cultural and commercial offerings. Students examined the Airbnb listings in the area and the type of guests stay there. They visited each neighborhood so they could better imagine new scenarios that involve local residents to help them enrich the touristic and cultural offering.


Rifredi is located in the North-Western area of Florence and has a very long history. Its name comes from “Rio Freddo” (rio=river, freddo=cold), which was the river that once separated Florence from cultivated fields but also from campsites set by enemies coming from the North-West. It became a neighborhood in 1850, thanks to the industrial development in the city. Today, it’s a fast-growing neighborhood but its historic sites are suffering from neglect. Students worked together to identify locations and practices that could encourage the local community, and travelers visiting Florence, to experience some of these historic buildings in the neighborhood, now more accessible thanks to the new tramway.

Who are the Airbnb guests coming to Rifredi?

The students examined these locations.

  • Impact Hub: A space dedicated to start-ups active in the social innovation field, where social activities, DJ sets and special dinners take place and could become Airbnb experiences.
  • Flog: It’s where locals from Rifredi have been meeting for years. Radiohead and the Ramones have played here, but also emerging bands. It offers many activities, some of which promote and encourage the discovery of Tuscany’s products, such as local wines. Here, experiences including cookery classes, happy hours and concerts could take place.
  • Circolo il Progresso: This clubhouse was founded in 1915 and keeps entertaining its members. The gym offers several boxing classes, from kick to thai, and hosts squash courts where one can run into the Italian champion Andrea Torricini. The students thought it would be interesting to organise an experience for people looking to get into any of these sports.
  • Stibbert e Fabbricotti: Two majestic parks nearby, one dating back to 1300, the other 1800. Here you’ll find activities such parkour, tai chi, yoga and bird watching. It’s a great location for outdoor experiences that involve both locals and travelers.
  • Movie and theatre locations: These are historic sites in Florence. Movie theaters like Adriano e Flora and theater Rifredi are dedicated to cabaret and pantomime. According to the student’s study, they could offer visitors experiences such as acting workshops and diction in the Florentine language, events dedicated to local movie directors or movies filmed in Florence (or about Florence), and even promote unique experiences such as “theater at home”.

In this gallery, an abstract from students’ slides.


Novoli is also located in the North-Western area of Florence: the neighborhood has been the center of great urban development following the ‘50s and ‘60s housing boomStudents identified two different ways to promote the neighborhood, a meeting point between tradition and innovation.

On one hand, the Cultural Clubhouse “La Perla” that houses culture and recreational activities and could be a starting point from which rediscover the local traditions through different experiences linked to dancing classes,“Dancing in Balera”On the other, is the neighborhood’s architecture: students created an experience, the “Archi-Tour” to take architecture, design and tech lovers to locations such as the Palazzo di Giustizia (Florence’s courthouse), San Donato Park and former-workshop Tabacchi.

In this gallery, an abstract from students’ slides.


The Isolotto, located in the South-West suburbs of Florence, holds a unique history.  Built on a rural past, its development started in the early years of 1800 with the founding of smelters and maiolica factories, becoming an area for low-income classes. The Isolotto as we know it today was built by I.N.A. casa, right after WWII. On November 6th 1954 the Mayor Giorgio La Pira handed the houses’ keys – built on a former rural ground – to almost 1,000 families. It was born as a neighborhood dedicated to – and organized for – social purposes. Today, the Isolotto is one of the greenest neighborhoods and has one of the lowest population densities

Students examined how the area is changing rapidly, mapping Airbnb’s presence and the type of tourists that visit the area.

They then imagined four experiences in Isolotto that would revolve around some local activities: an experience linked to the green areas, in a greenhouse; one linked to the French bowls game, so popular among the elderly, one linked to the historic Florentine football that holds Medieval origins; and one to leisure fishing.

Their work was very useful to develop the second Special Week.

In this gallery, an abstract from students’ slides.

The second week

During the second phase of the project students from all over the world worked together to explore the experiences in Isolotto in particular, each dealing with the context of the students’ specialization. From food to fashion, from sport to lifestyle, they perfected the offer and invented very interesting approaches. The brief asked them to create unique experiences within the Isolotto area, aiming to take tourists outside the historic center, to the suburbs, and to live the city in the most authentic way, like (and with) the locals.

Here are some of the Experiences created by the students for Isolotto.


Food & Culture Group

“Forks up gluten free”

“Learn to create gluten-free versions of authentic Tuscan dishes that everyone can enjoy with a local food blogger and self-proclaimed foodie before feasting on the prepared dishes.”

“Show & Play Aperitivo”

“Enjoy a diverse family friendly activity at the historic Villa Strozzi park before marveling at the Limonaia over a delicious aperitivo and show.”

“Family’s Day Out”

“Have a field day at the park before sitting back and enjoying a nice aperitivo/wine tasting while the kids go on a fun treasure hunt.”

“Botanical Supper Club”

“Indulge in a one of a kind culinary experience, with a new cuisine and chef each month, at a world class hotel followed by a botanical dinner with fresh ingredients from the local farms.”


Special thanks to students, Nagla Gaafar, Anna Montagne, Fenny Cheong, Dominique Barbieri.

You can review their presentation here.


Fashion & Art Group


“Become a Masterpiece!”

“Come to Sartoria Costumi Teatrale Antonietta and fully immerse yourself in the ways of the past. Learn about the fashion of the typical Florentine from the Renaissance period while you enjoy prosecco and a light aperitivo. Your host will match you with an appropriate costume, along with hair and makeup, in order to recreate a famous portrait from this period.”


You can review their presentation here.

Special thanks to students, Gaia Farsetti, Shufeng Han, George Katticaran, Samantha Lajoie e Florencia Scolavino.


Fitness & Sport Group


“Fishing in the Arno river”

“Find yourself fishing on the Lungarno with locals and enjoy fresh food from Isolotto’s market.”


A second Experience is called “Authentic fight alla fiorentina”: “Find yourself enjoying watching the intense training for the historical half-game half-fight Calcio Storico Fiorentino in a sandpit in Galluzzo. Afterwards, you can enjoy dinner in a traditional Florentine restaurant Il Santo Bevitore in the bohemian quarter Santo Spirito.

You can review their full presentation here.

Special thanks to students, Gianmarco Cantinotti, Nicole Decanini, Davide Tierie, Natalia Kudryavtseva, Ekaterina Zinchenko.


Special thanks to all the students who joined the project and contributed in imagining the future of Florence’s outer neighborhoods, combining Florence’s public policy with Airbnb Experiences to envision new economies and collaborations.

The best ideas, developed in collaboration with the Airbnb team, could be transformed into real experiences to the benefit of these neighborhoods!

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