(CNN) — The tiny mountain village of Corippo, arranged higgledy-piggledy on the green slopes of southern Switzerland's Verzasca valley, looks like something out of a fairytale.
But here, in what is Switzerland's smallest municipality, the citizens are facing a harsh reality.
What was once a thriving farming community of around 300 people has dwindled to just 12 residents, 11 of whom are over 65. Today, the only economic activity in the town is the local osteria, a rustic restaurant.
Here, in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, not far from Lacarno, Corippo's slate-roofed buildings, built from local Ticino granite, have remained largely untouched for centuries -- but it's now on the verge of becoming a ghost town.
However, all's not lost. A local foundation, Fondazione Corippo 1975, has come up with a novel way to save the village: Corippo is set to become the country's first "albergo diffuso," or scattered hotel.
Borrowing a model that's already proven successful in Italy, around 30 of the village's 70 buildings -- slate-roofed, built from local Ticino granite, and centuries-old -- are to to be converted into vacation cottages and hotel rooms.
It will, says Fabio Giacomazzi, an architect and president of the foundation, give visitors "the chance to experience a very particular sojourn in a genuine rural village that remained practically the same since 1800."
Aside from soaking up the atmosphere of an authentic Ticino village, guests will also be able to hike through the region, visit cultural sites and enjoy the local gastronomy.