An increasing number of small towns in Italy are selling homes for the symbolic price of €1 ($1.13) in an effort to revive dwindling populations. Most of the houses in the €1 House scheme are fixer-uppers and require a good bit of money to get them up to scratch. But if you've long-dreamed of pulling up stakes with your very own rustic retreat in a community that offers a relaxed pace of life and a good deal of sunshine, these towns are probably a good place to start.
Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Abruzzo
In the pretty village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio in Abruzzo a non-resident between the age of 18 and 40 can purchase an abandoned home for the symbolic price of €1. The village has a tiny population of just 115 people and it wants new residents who will commit to living there for a minimum of five years. It's looking for people who could open a tourism, hospitality or drugstore business, or contribute to the community by working in the information office, selling food, or working in cleaning and maintenance.
Newbies will be provided with a monthly grant for three years, up to a maximum of €8000 per year, as well as a non-repayable grant of up to €20,000 to help them get their project off the ground. The council wants to gradually revive the population and accepted just ten applicants (out of more than 15,000) before the November 15 deadline in 2020. To check for openings in 2021, stay up-to-date here.
Castropignano is a small hilltop town that overlooks the Biferno river valley, just a few kilometers from Campobasso in Molise. The wider region is known for its pristine beaches, snowcapped mountains, vineyards and coastal towns, while Castropignano, a crumbling medieval town, is packed with historic 16th-century sites. A small population of just under 900 residents call it home but the town is hoping to attract more with a number of €1 properties that could be transformed into a holiday home, B&B, or artisan shop. See more here.
Laurenzana is located in the Basilicata region, about midway between Naples and Bari. The town is filled with traditional terrace and stone houses, some of which are part of the €1 scheme. It's pretty place with a medieval castle and church that dominate the town from above, and a well-preserved historic center with its maze of alleyways. The National Park of Appennino Lucano Val D'Agri Lagonegrese is close by and is a beautiful place to hike and spot wildlife. Potential buyers interested in moving to Laurenzana under the scheme must download an application form for a home, specify their renovation plans and how they could contribute to the town's tourism, trade or craft industries.
Noted for its medieval charms, Salemi was recently added to 'Italy's most beautiful villages' association and is ready to start a fresh chapter with new residents. Prospective residents will need to submit a plan detailing how they will renovate the property, and a deposit of €3000 is required. Those who transform their building into a business that helps revive the local economy, such as a B&B, gallery or restaurant, can apply for tax credits. Around a dozen homes will go on auction for €1 before being sold to the highest bidder.
Photos of the homes will be posted here soon, which people can browse through before submitting an online application form for their preferred home. Most are located within Salemi's attractive historic center with its cobbled streets, family-friendly bars and cafes that spill out on to piazzas. The village is surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, and has access to plenty of hiking trails.
This article was first published on December 4, 2019 and updated on January 8, 2021.
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