I was raised offline in the Tuscan countryside back in the 1980s. When I was 6, my parents decided to move from the congested city of Naples, where we had every comfort, to a beautiful but austere rural house in one of the most secluded areas of Italy. The expression, “in the middle of nowhere” was no longer a euphemism. The word “offline” at the time was mostly unknown, but today describes perfectly my first years in that new place. We were literally disconnected from the world: no electric power, no land line telephone, no TV. Just candles at bedtime, and fireplaces to warm up the house. Internet, cellphones and solar panels were 20 years in the future, the first village 10 miles away, and the first real city 150 miles away.
I found myself immersed into an intensive digital detox lifestyle ahead of time, driven by my alternative parents’ desire for a better quality of life. It was a fortuitous lifestyle that would only dissolve in the years to come – slowly but irreparably. At the time I was too young to understand the immense luxury I was experiencing. It was a time of outdoor playing from dawn to dusk, for enjoying full attention from your parents, long conversations, shaping chunks out of clay, drawing for hours with water colors, and reading thousand of adventure book pages. We’d learn poems with Nonna, go in the woods and pick mushrooms, berries, and asparagus. It was a time of horseback riding with other lucky kids like me, and so on.
It was an amazing unplugged childhood which gradually evolved into a slightly more connected teenage years. By the time I was 10, we had power in this big rural house, we had black box tv, and a phone number. The day they installed our landline I was so thrilled, I still remember the smell of that amazing gray plastic machine – but I was still pretty much a tech-free kid. Then, when I turned 12, I wanted a Commodore 64. I went to the computer store 40 miles away with my father, and will never forget his sceptical approach to the nerdy guy running the store, but things were changing everywhere, even in that remote corner of Tuscany.
In the 80s we were watching movies like War Games and Back to the Future; we started writing our own lines of code in Basic; and traveled the world feeling something big happening: the digital revolution. I was in college, at some point in the 90s, when I saw for the first time a computer connected to an extremely slow internet connection in a cafe. It was love at first sight! Then in 1998, I had a GSM in my pocket and a 56K modem connection at home. I was now able to send text messages and emails; build websites; and make new friends on ICQ . Since then I have been rarely offline in my daily life routine. I never complained about it – I always loved the power of the communication, and developed a career based on it which eventually brought me to New York City – undoubtedly one of the most connected place on Earth.
How do I manage to find a balance in my digital life? Having experienced such an intense tech-free childhood, and having become someone who has to be online most of his time, I found my balance traveling. I started in the mid 2000s doing long, unplugged trips in Central and South America, leaving my cellphone at home. It would have been useless anyway, and opportunities to check my emails were rare – every 2 weeks on old slow machines running on Windows 95 in some crumbling remote internet cafe. I immediately loved that feeling of being free again. I wasn’t missing anything relevant, and actually enjoyed a much more intense social life meeting people who eventually became some of my greatest friends. I was returning home totally regenerated, not only for the trip itself, but for simply having temporarily shifted my habits.
Over the years, I learned to take my own digital detox getaways to offline destinations, sometimes for just a weekend, and other times for weeks, just to reduce the anxiety of checking my phone’s notifications every 5 minutes, or the need to reply to an email immediately. It basically to put same space between me and my digital life. Every time I return home more determined, productive – even a better person, and this lasts for a good amount of time.
I have been traveling in more than 50 countries on many different levels of comfort and connectivity. I have been working in the travel industry for many years and I realized that being offline and taking advantage of it was becoming the real luxury for a vacation. I envisioned Offline Destinations with the goal to provide a certain niche of people with a selection of top destinations responding to their need to be unplugged for a bit, from their digital routines, on the level they desire.
We aim to pick the best hotels, B&Bs, vacation rentals, retreats, and also travel experiences, restaurants, bars, and cafes that decided to offer their services with limited or no internet connection as their philosophy.
If you want to learn more about OD or you have a business that you would like to submit to our selection please contact us.