Rome (CNN) — Medieval architects, deserted towns and remote countryside — what sounds like the ingredients for a horror movie could actually be the recipe for the perfect COVID-era hotel.

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Since the 1990s, Italy has been pioneering a tourism model known as “albergo diffuso” – or scattered hotel. These involve installing a full hotel into various buildings of a largely abandoned village.

Most of these centuries-old villages have suffered from depopulation as residents move to bigger cities in search of work – the same problem that has inspired many Italian villages to sell off homes for next to nothing.

Enterprising hoteliers have taken these ghost towns and transformed them into often luxurious accommodations, with guests able to stay in their own individual building, but then eat at a restaurant or maybe visit a spa installed in another part of the village.

As travel begins to return with the prospect of a vaccine, it’s likely that many tourists will still favor accommodation that offers the prospect of social distancing – which is where scattered hotels come into their own.