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Darren Packman

Sipping on a small cup of steaming hot espresso watching the sun rise over the golden fields of a small Italian farmstead, it’s easy to forget I’m actually here to work.

‘Here’ is Il Fornello, a characterful former terracotta tile factory nestled in the hills of the Umbria region of central Italy that has been tastefully converted by an enterprising Swedish couple into a vibrant coliving country house for a new generation of travel-happy digital workers.

Since the Covid pandemic struck, the number of people who have ditched the dreary daily commute into overcrowded cities only to sit for hours behind a desk has rocketed. Our enforced isolation taught us that working remotely was not only possible, but for many it boosted productivity, their mental health and tipped the scales of work/life balance in their favour.

Companies such as Airbnb, 3M and Spotify have now made working from home part of their corporate policy, while others like US community review platform Yelp have gone even further and shut their physical offices for good.

An analysis of the effects of the COVID pandemic conducted by the UK Office for National Statistics reveals that 85% of working adults in Britain want a ‘hybrid’ approach to home and office working in the future.

Working 9 to 5, it seems, is no longer a hit.

This revolution in the way we work is something Swedish entrepreneur Stina Haglund saw coming long before the pandemic. Together with husband Magnus she opened one of northern Sweden’s very first coworking spaces back in 2015. And now she’s doing it again - only this time in the stunning Italian countryside.

Coliving, unlike more conventional forms of accommodation, is an increasingly popular shared living and working concept in which you rent a room or an apartment for weeks or even months and take your online work with you.

“Italy has it all - the climate, the food, the wine and the people. I’ve always had this romantic image of beautiful landscapes, vineyards, olive plantations and long warm nights with guests engaged in creative conversations. And now my dream has finally come true”, says Stina.

She first became convinced of the importance of where people work while employed as a cultural analyst, a job in which she studied different cultures and arranged creative meetings.

“I realised that the actual meeting places and the physical design of them were more important for productivity than I could have ever imagined. So I began drawing up plans for a coworking concept where people could drop in for an hour, a day, a month or even longer and share resources, equipment, ideas and knowledge.

“Then I thought why not combine all these things in a beautiful location that people would love to come to stay in as well as work? A place where they can spend the morning in online meetings before taking a dip in the pool at lunchtime, and finish off the working day with a glass of delicious local wine. I reasoned that if you are fortunate enough to be able to work remotely, why not work somewhere amazing?”

And so began a search for the ideal location, A search that ended when the couple happened across an old terracotta tile factory once used as a shelter by local farmers who looked after the surrounding land for wealthy landowners in Rome.

Located within easy reach of the reliable Italian railway system, and with the cities of Rome and Florence just a couple of hours away, Il Fornello offers a rustic taste of inland Italy, surrounded by vineyards producing fruity reds and vegetable farmers growing produce that looks like it comes straight out of a food magazine photoshoot.

“It just instantly felt right being here”, says Stina. “The perfect place to live the ‘dolce vita’”.

The imposing brick building has been remodelled into nine individual apartments, the majority with their own living room and bathroom. A communal outside kitchen and poolside bar have been created to actively encourage people to socialise while preparing and eating meals. And rather than share stories around the office water cooler, people now happily chat around an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven instead.

“I want Il Fornello to be an inclusive place where you can go to meet other exciting and creative people, exchange ideas and create opportunities for one another”, says Stina.

Which reminds me it’s high time I stop writing this article, unplug the laptop and take my daily 45 second commute to the swimming pool for a refreshing afternoon dip. With memories of traffic jams and travel delays quickly evaporating in the Italian sunshine I’ve already promised myself that if coliving really is the future of work, I’m probably never going to retire.

Localita Il Fornello 205, 06062, Citta della Pieve Italien
 Coordinates: 42.989702, 12.035695


Du flyger till Rom, Florence eller Perugia. Rom brukar vara billigast från Stockholm, Perugia är närmast.