The Old City of Akko is an unpolished diamond. And, as such, it has many facets. This is why the term "authentic tourism" can be misleading or at best given to multiple interpretations.
What is "authentic tourism"? Is it a home-cooked banquet shared with locals during the month of Ramadan? Is it the clack-clack-clack of the horse-drawn carts conveying visitors through the cobblestone streets accompanied by blaring music - or is it something else? Maybe it`s the mesh of old and new, classy and modest, sophisticated and simple that gives Old Akko its charm and allure.
A typical example is Carma Akko, a quaint vacation home in the heart of the Old City, right behind the Arab market. Carlos and Mali Cortes (hence "Carma") - Mali originally from Cleveland, Ohio and Carlos from La Serena, Chile, both Jewish - purchased the building in 2011 from the Qassem family.
The house, that features historic elements dating back to the Crusader era, was very run down, with outdated and dangerous infrastructures and a roof that was on the verge of collapse.
Carlos and Mali lovingly renovated it, with the timely assistance of local artisans well-versed in the complexities of stabilizing, cleaning and replacing Akko stone and the risk of unearthing too much history, lest the discovery of antiquities scrap the entire project.
Carma`s neighbors landed a helping hand where needed or just a nice cup of Turkish coffee and light conversation.
Finally, in September 2017, Carma officially opened.
Inside the house you can literally touch history spanning four different periods. These include the upper part of a 1000 year old Crusader arch, the rest of which lies deep below ground.
Various other archeological elements uncovered during renovations offer an enchanting look into how people lived hundreds of years ago.
An archeologist informed Carlos and Mali that, like many buildings of the Genoese Quarter, most of the building`s remains are below ground, but Crusader and more recent relics are visible throughout.
During the Ottoman Period, the townhouse was two separate buildings located in the heart of the small Ottoman Jewish community in the great Mubellata Quarter.
The neighbors recount that about 100 years ago, the house doubled as the dwelling and "fast-food joint" of a man named Abu Ibrahim who sold the best boiled dried fava beans and pita bread in town - or so we`re told…
Today, the house welcomes visitors from all over the world with all of the modern amenities including air conditioning, WiFi, a fully equipped kitchen, satellite TV, comfy beds, wine bar, and a rooftop terrace to chill after a long day of discovery, to mention only a few. To each tourist, Carlos and Mali unfold the tale of how Carma Akko evolved.
Now is this not indeed "authentic tourism"?firstname.lastname@example.org