By now most folks have heard about the €1 home schemes of various Italian municipalities – buy an abandoned centuries-old home in a small town or village for pennies, pay to renovate it and bring it up to code and live out your Under the Tuscan Sun fantasies for a fraction of the total cost your wildest dreams could have ever thought.
The reality is sometimes not so dreamy, however – the homes aren’t generally in Tuscany but rather in Italy's less developed south; hoop-jumping through the bureaucracy, tax and preservation laws can be a real bear; and, once it's all said and done, you may find yourself living in a pretty isolated part of the world thinking, "how did I get here?"
Enter Retire2Italy, an immigrant relocation service in Italy who have combined a need to save a few dying homes in their childhood stomping grounds of Emilia-Romagna with the distinct awareness that dealing with Italian bureaucracy can be a real pain in the sedere (that's "butt" in Italian – your first lesson to prepare for your move!).
"My whole family was born and raised in the municipality of Vetto where they used to run a local restaurant; unfortunately, the demographic change of post-war Italy and the attractiveness of nearby cities have prompted many young inhabitants to move out of town en masse," says Retire2Italy's Nicolò Bolla, who is also a certified accountant. "The result is a significant drop in the town population, leaving abandoned homes and family histories behind. So, I took this challenge very seriously as I don’t want to see my land and my family history disappear."
Bolla and his partner, Alessandro Barba, have rescued three 17th century homes slated for demolition by the municipality of Vetto, some 43km or so southwest of Reggio Emilia, and will auction each with a starting bid of €1. But here's the rub: Retire2Italy will provide all the tax/immigration/renovation support to the winning bidder – a perk that just might make the difference between tearing your hair out in bureaucratic frustration and living out your golden years chasing Emilia's finest local specialities (Parmesan cheese, tortellini, balsamic vinegar, ragù, Parma ham) with a fine Lambrusco without a care in the world.
"Renovating a property can be a major challenge but the federal government has introduced a €96,000 tax benefit (per independent building on property) to people renovating properties and Emilia-Romagna chips in up to an additional €40,000 for house purchases and renovations for EU passport holders who move to mountain areas (where Vetto belongs)," continues Bolla. "Finally, the municipality of Vetto awards €1500 for any home purchase."
Furthermore, Reggio Emilia is a wonderful Emilian city with great restaurants, transport options and historic credence (the tri-colored Italian national flag hails from there) – sandwiched between two even more special places, Parma and Modena. What are you waiting for?