Le Mat social tourism proposals help you to plan your travel itinerary; to discover new places, to meet and spend time with social entrepreneurs in situ; and to learn from a diversity of social enterprise practice in Italy, Sweden, the UK, Spain, elsewhere in Europe, and soon... all over the globe.
Le Mat social entrepreneurs work in the general interest of local people and places. They invest their abilities, ideas and resources to build more inclusive, socially responsible communities, landscapes, hamlets, towns and cities - resulting in more interesting environments for travellers to explore. Sometimes they fight against exclusion and discrimination; frequently they innovate, creating employment and new opportunities in the social economy. They work with renewable energy sources, and network with other small enterprises and cultural associations in their surroundings, sharing and debating values, ideas and sustainable practice.
You can visit social entrepreneurs, you can participate in their lives and in their work, you can become a social traveller helping them to develop a more social and socializing tourism.
To help you to imagine a possible experience before you plan a journey of your own, here’s an example of what social tourism means for us:
Have you heard of the Cadore Dolomites? The beautiful high mountain region of the north east of Italy, just 2 ó hours on a slow train from Venice? There is a social co-operative there called Cadore which, concurrent with a bad financial crisis in the local industry of spectacles manufacture, managed to create many jobs in the protection of forestry, rivers, and the countryside. You will be welcomed in their beautiful valleys and they will help you to discover the mountains from a different point of view. Teresa – the Le Mat traveller – tells the story of her trip to Cadore in this video.
If you prefer flat country, how about the Italian plain near the Adriatic Sea and the delta of the river Po; the small, quiet, and elegant artistic cities of Ravenna and Faenza in the Italian region of Romagna? There is a beautiful hostel in the former monastery of a small medieval town just near Ravenna. Young people working in a social co-operative took over and now manage the hostel, naming it after the monastery: Bagnacavallo, a real Le Mat place. Here you can travel by bike and discover a countryside that tells many fascinating stories.
Or are you intrigued by Tuscany, in meeting local people, and discovering their ways of life all year ‘round? Carlo and Caterina have a beautiful house in the mountains immediately above Florence (25 minutes by local train). They share their house where they live and work and their land and interests with their guests.
Have you ever travelled to Umbria, its green hills, lakes and medieval towns in a small region at the very centre of Italy? The social entrepreneurs of LA TANA LIBERA TUTTI welcome you, and together with them you can discover the ways of life in an historic rural area. Assisi is just 13km (8 miles) from where you can stay.
We call it socializing tourism because you meet people who design their work and activities to be of use to the whole community.
You will find the Le Mat SPECIAL PEOPLE and their SOCIAL TOURISM proposals in Abruzzo - it's mountains, hills, beautiful coast - and also in Sardinia, a very beautiful island, but you also can meet them in big towns, for example in Genoa on the north west coast; or Verona near Lake Garda in central northern Italy. And last, but by no means least, in Sicily. Have you ever made Sicilian olive oil? After the herbs and lemons, autumn is the season for harvesting olives from their groves.
Le Mat’s Social tourism means that you can learn Italian by following the social entrepreneurs in their daily routines; you can learn how to appreciate the regional food and how to cook special dishes; you can visit places that aren’t written in the official tourist guides. You can learn what it means to be a social entrepreneur!
Le Mat social tourism crosses borders. We are a transnational, social franchise organisation. Many years ago some Swedish people came travelling to Italy. They told us that they liked our idea of “ACCOGLIENZA”, which means something more embracing than “WELCOMING”. So they asked us about our culture and our knowhow, our philosophy and how we approach inclusive tourism. They wanted to know how so-called disabled or excluded people can become active citizens, responsible workers, and owners of co-operatives. We told them of our experiences and our stories of success, of the incubation of the idea, philosophy, and practice of Le Mat at the HOTEL TRITONE in Trieste. And they decided to copy us, to learn from our practices, and to set up the LE MAT B&Bs in Sweden. So now you can travel to Goteborg and to Karlstadt, and like magic you will find LE MAT SPECIAL PEOPLE and the SPECIAL VALUES of our SOCIAL and SOCIALIZING TOURISM there! “Unexpected and Brilliant”, as they like to say. Together, we drafted the LE MAT EUROPE social tourism development plan, and now our social franchising system is growing in many other countries. Perhaps you would like us to help you to experience more from travelling? Then contact us! You are more than welcome. - Accolti!