The idyllic Sicilian village of Salemi has become the latest spot in Italy to auction abandoned homes for €1 in a bid to revive its population. 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.
Salemi, a pretty medieval town in southwestern Sicily, recently signed up to the Italy's €1 house scheme in an effort to offset its dwindling population. The town is encouraging people from Italy and abroad to buy some of its abandoned properties on auction and breathe new life back into the community. Typically the houses on offer in Italy's "ghost towns" need a lot of work to get them up to up to scratch so the €1 price tag in Salemi comes with a caveat.
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.
All of the homes belong to the city council, which speeds up the sale and reduces red tape, the town mayor, Domenico Venuti, told CNN. "Before launching the scheme we first had to recover the old parts of Salemi where the houses are located, upgrading infrastructures and services from roads to electric grids and sewage pipes. Now the town is ready for the next step."
Around a dozen homes will go on auction at €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. It's surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, and has access to plenty of hiking trails.
Even though it's a quiet town, it knows how to throw a party. Every year jazz fans flock there for a festival dedicated to musician Tony Scott, whose parents emigrated from Salemi to the US. It also hosts an annual mini Oktoberfest, as well as various food festivals. It's easy to reach too as it's located just an hour and a half drive from Sicily's capital Palermo.