From ancient castles to cloistered monasteries and vast palazzos, Italy is auctioning off some of its historic, state-owned properties.

Cloisters of the Church of San Salvador, Venice
The former convent of San Salvador in Venice is one of the historic properties set to be auctioned by Italy's State Property Agency ©Andrea Pucci via Getty

Italy's State Property Agency (Agenzia del Demanio) is attempting to clear €2.3 trillion in public debt by auctioning state-owned buildings. Going under the harmer are grand buildings like the former convent of San Salvador in Venice; an apartment in the scenic village of Anversa degli Abruzzi; a two-storey villa in the centre of Bologna, a Renaissance palazzo in Piacenza, Emilia Romagna; a four-floor residential home in the historic centre of Bergamo, as well as castles, seaside villas and more.

Historic mountain town of Anversa degli Abruzzi
An apartment in the historic town of Anversa degli Abruzzi is also up for sale ©Ellen van Bodegom via Getty

Up to 93 properties are already available to purchase online and while most are priced in the millions, there are some moderately-priced options, though it requires a bit of digging to find them. The agency has a detailed list of available properties on its website with photos, descriptions and even virtual tours. The first auction is expected to take place on the 16 and 17 of October, with another to follow in November.

Bergamo towers viewed from the Rocca
Potential buyers can purchase a four-floor residential property in the historic centre of Bergamo © Davide Seddio

It's hoped that some of the properties, many of which are unused and derelict, can be lovingly restored into commercial or tourist facilities, especially in Italy's unsung areas, to take the heat off major tourist areas. The ruling League and Five Star party aims to raise around €950 million from the auction, which it says will help fund public spending like welfare and pensions.

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Some state-owned buildings which have been successfully repurposed as tourist attractions include the CAST (Castello delle Storie di Montagna) museum at the converted Castello Masegra in Valtellina, about two hours north of Milan. In 2013 the government sold the Middle Ages-era castle to the municipality of Sondrio and this week it reopened as a museum of Alpine culture, mountaineering and Renaissance history with lots of multimedia installations, interactive experiences and themed events.

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