Simona, Rome

Simona’s family goes back many generations in Rome: hospitality has run in the family for generations, and when she tries to recall where it all started for her, she raises her brows and looks like she is carefully going through her memories, going back in time to when she was only a girl. She thinks about the midnight spaghetti cooked by her parents for their friends and neighbors, about the Roman middle class that in the ‘60s celebrated the Italian economic boom, the Dolce Vita; she imagines what was left of the Second World War and the early ‘50s, when Romans would open their homes to workers from the south seeking fortune in the capital. A way of life that sees sharing as a historical asset to build a future after a crisis.

It’s not a chance, then, that Rome’s community of home sharers started right here, at Simona’s house in the Monteverde neighborhood, near the historical city center. Here, Simona loves to meet other dedicated Airbnb hosts and exchange tips and ideas during lunches and meetings. “Try and ask how good my pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans, a Roman specialty) is” she says jokingly. The first tip she gives to the other hosts is to be committed to making their guest feel at home through simple gestures. For example, by seven every morning, the wonderful aroma of fresh coffee permeates the house and invites guests to gather in the kitchen to chat. It’s something she does happily, she calls it “small secrets of great hospitality”. Recently Simona shared her experience – a sort of hospitality etiquette – on stage at the Airbnb Open Festival in Los Angeles.

“You have to get rid of the private property attitude” says the 72-year-old Airbnb home sharer for over six years and counting, “and explore the endless benefits of sharing. I never keep anything locked in my home. My guests are more than welcome to read my books, to cook with me, to bear their hearts and troubles, if they feel like it. It’s a mutual exchange of ideas and daily life. That’s how guests fall in love with my home, I trust them and they trust me, and therefore they trust the city they are visiting. And the relationship doesn’t end with their visit, it is kept alive by reviews, emails, letters, Facebook chats. Maybe a new trip comes up, and this time I am the guest. Even at my age, every time I ask myself “how this experience will be, who will be coming next?”.

“You have to get rid of the private property attitude” says the 72-year-old Airbnb home sharer for over six years and counting, “and explore the endless benefits of sharing. I never keep anything locked in my home. My guests are more than welcome to read my books, to cook with me, to bear their hearts and troubles, if they feel like it. It’s a mutual exchange of ideas and daily life. That’s how guests fall in love with my home, I trust them and they trust me, and therefore they trust the city they are visiting. And the relationship doesn’t end with their visit, it is kept alive by reviews, emails, letters, Facebook chats. Maybe a new trip comes up, and this time I am the guest. Even at my age, every time I ask myself “how this experience will be, who will be coming next?”.

Simona celebrated her birthday a few weeks before we met her in Rome, at her house. Every time she gets birthday wishes from many of her guests who send cards and gifts from all over the world: Argentina, China, Australia, Germany. “Home sharing makes you feel not alone. It encourages you to discover new realities and it gets you out of your little bubble. In the end, you forget you are an host: you are a citizen of the world. You are happier.”

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