Italy’s Abandoned Villages Plan To Save Themselves From Ruin By Selling Homes For $1 Or Less

See Business Insider Article Here
By Aria Bendix

With its quaint fountains, ancient churches, and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian village Ollolai may seem like the ideal refuge from city life. In reality, it’s losing people at an alarming rate as residents trade the historic hamlet for bustling metropolises.

In a last-ditch attempt to save itself from ruin, the town opted to sell its abandoned homes for 1 euro (about $1.14) each, starting in 2018. In exchange, owners must renovate the properties within three years — a process that could cost about $25,000.

Read more: 8 cities and towns where you can get a home for free — or buy one at a massive discount

“My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion,” the village’s mayor, Efisio Arbau, told CNN.

Almost a year after the program was announced, interest continues to boom. According to Magaraggia, a law firm that advises people on how to buy, sell, and manage properties in Italy, Ollolai received 5,000 requests for its first 100 properties. The program is now oversaturated with demand and has been temporarily put on hold as the government searches for new properties to sell.

Gangi homes 2Gangi has a population of less than 7,000.

The Ollolai initiative is part of a larger program called “Case a 1 euro,” meaning “houses at 1 euro,” which aims to lure new residents to sparse villages in places like Sicily, Tuscany, and Sardinia.

In 2015, the small Sicilian town Gangi began offering free homeswith a similar set of caveats: Buyers had to develop renovation plans within one year and carry out the plans the homes within three.

More recently, the Sicilian village of Sambuca started selling homesowned by the local government.

“We’re not intermediaries who liaise between old and new owners,” Sambuca’s deputy mayor and tourist councilor, Giuseppe Cacioppo, told CNN. “You want that house, you’ll get it no time.”

The homes cost 1 euro and range from 430 square feet to 1,600 square feet. Like other villages, Sambuca requires homes to be renovated within three years of purchase. The village also asks for a $5,700 refundable security deposit.

By mid-January, 10 houses had been sold, with much of the interest coming from foreign buyers in Europe.

Gangi dollar homesAn Australian director and producer visits a 1 euro home in Gangi.

Though the discounted homes have yielded considerable attention abroad, some potential owners remain put off by the hidden costs.

A woman from Melbourne, Australia, previously told Business Insider that she traveled nearly 10,000 miles to purchase a 1 euro home in Gangi, only to discover that the home would cost her $17,000 in fees and permits before any renovations could be done.

“I stayed there for a week and looked at all the ones that were for sale,” she said in 2015. “They were all terrible and needed to be knocked down and rebuilt.”

The homes often show visible signs of neglect, including crumbling walls, rotting wood, and overgrown landscapes.

For some, fixing these issues is a small trade-off for an Italian address. Renovations might also improve the resale value of a property, though home flipping is uncommon in Italy, given thatresidences are often passed down from generation to generation.

Gangi homesA house that was on sale for 1 euro in Gangi as of September 2017.

In the case of European buyers, they could also be investing in the strength of their countries’ economies.

As Italy weathers a recession that began in late 2018, the nation has been forced to borrow money from European banks. Nations such as France, Germany, and Spain own the largest shares of Italian debt, making them particularly vulnerable to a financial downturn in Italy.

While the Italian real-estate market is only one contributor to the nation’s financial crisis, the continued fall in property prices has placed even more strain on the nation’s economy.

Even the state government has sought to reduce its financial struggles by listing abandoned properties.

In 2017, Italy’s State Property Agency offered to give away more than 100 castles, farmhouses, and monasteries to owners who volunteered to transform them into tourist destinations.

Around the same time, the mayor of a remote village offered discounted rent and a $2,100 cash incentive to people who agreed to move there. He later retracted the offer because of excessive demand.

These Italian Villages Will Pay You To Live There — Here’s The Catch

See Author Article Here
By Laura Itzkowitz

Who among us hasn’t fantasized about ditching the rat race and moving to a charming village in Italy à la “Under the Tuscan Sun?”

If you’ve been dreaming about buying a crumbling stone house perched on a hillside, you might just get your chance. Locana, a village in the northern Italian region of Piedmont, has become the latest town to attempt to lure new blood with an offer that seems too good to be true.

As first reported by CNN Travel, Giovanni Bruno Mattiet, the mayor of Locana, is offering up to €9,000 (about $10,300 at the current exchange rate) spread out over three years to families willing to settle in the town. The catch: new residents must have a child and a minimum annual income of at least 6,000 euros (approximately $6,800).

“We’re looking to draw mostly young people and professionals who work remotely or are willing to start an activity here,” Mattiet told CNN Travel. “There are dozens of closed shops, bars, restaurants and boutiques just waiting for new people to run them.”

The town is located about an hour from Piedmont’s capital Turin and almost two hours from the famous vineyards of Barolo, Barbaresco and Asti, which have brought great wealth to the region — or parts of it, anyway. Locana, it seems, has been suffering from depopulation as young people move to cities in search of work. It’s a trend that’s playing out all over Italy, where a weak economy has made many young Italians pack up and move abroad.

“Our population has shrunk from 7,000 residents in the early 1900s to barely 1,500, as people left looking for a job at Turin’s big factories,” Mattiet said. “Our school each year faces the risk of shutting down due to too few pupils. I can’t allow this to happen.”

A vineyard in Asti, a Piedmont town known for its sparkling wines. Photo by Laura ItzkowitzA vineyard in Asti, a Piedmont town known for its sparkling wines. Photo by Laura Itzkowitz/TPG

And the mayor of Locana isn’t alone. Just a couple of weeks ago, the village of Sambuca, in Sicily , announced it was selling houses for just 1 euro. After CNN broke the story, it went viral and has apparently resulted in a flood of interest. The mayor’s office even set up a dedicated email address — case1euro@comune.sambucadisicilia.ag.it — which received tens of thousands of emails, he said.

TPG spoke with Leonardo Ciaccio, the mayor of Sambuca, who said “the official call for bids will kick off on Feb. 10, but already lots of visitors from all over the world have come to Sambuca and purchased houses available for prices other than one euro.”

According to Mayor Ciaccio, the town is home to around 6.,000 residents and offers cultural attractions including museums and theaters as well as opportunities to go hiking and explore the region’s gastronomy. The closest beach is about a 15-minute drive away in the town of Fiori Menfi. The closest airport is in Palermo, about 70 minutes away by car. According to Italy Magazine, the town was founded around 830 by the Saracens and still has archeological sites, narrow, winding streets and underground caverns.

Seems too good to be true? Of course it is.

The 37 homes for sale are crumbling and in dire need of repair. In order to get one, you have to commit to investing at least 15,000 euros (over $17,100) in renovations, which must be completed within three years. Add to that the property taxes, which in Italy are notoriously high. To prove you’re serious, you must put down a security deposit of 5,000 euros (about $5,700), which will be returned once the renovations are complete — that is, if you can get one at all.

Jonathon Spada, an American web designer living in Rome, heard about just such a deal being offered up by a town in Abruzzo a few years ago and went to the town hall to try to bid for a house.

“In that case, it was structured like a competition and there were dozens upon dozens of entrants for just the two small homes that I was interested in,” he told TPG. “Additionally, the competition required [that] a minimum amount of private funding (something like 50,000 euros) was secured before applying and an entire design project, including specs and budget.”

Sextantio Grotte della Civiltà hotel in Matera. Photo courtesy of Design HotelsSextantio Grotte della Cività hotel in Matera. Photo courtesy of Design Hotels

Spada says it seemed like a ruse to gain media coverage before just giving the opportunity to a local. He added, however, that in the case of these other towns, investing 10,000 to 20,000 euros into a property might still be a good deal, citing the examples of Basilicata’s ancient cave city of Matera — currently the European Capital of Culture — and Santo Stefano di Sessanio in Abruzzo, where crumbling old homes have been transformed into sister locations of an albergo diffuso called Sextantio.

Translated literally, an albergo diffuso is a “scattered hotel” — in essence, a hotel that operates as a collection of suites in renovated houses or, in the case of Matera, cave dwellings spread out around the town. In fact, Sextantio Le Grotte della Cività in Matera and Sextantio Albergo Diffuso in Santo Stefano di Sessanio are chic members of Design Hotels.

“You can see that the road to success lies with foreigners buying up these properties, renovating them and spending vacation time there,” Spada said.

Who knows — if you’ve got the money to spare and want to play a part in a town’s revitalization, it just might be worth it.

Featured image of the Langhe Hills of Piedmont by Laura Itzkowitz.

Airbnb Will Pay For You To Spend This Summer Living An Authentic Italian Life In The Countryside

Fuck. While many of my posts have been about depressing shit like trying to kill myself.. I’d have to say this is the hardest post to write. But, I started writing on this platform to write about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even if it means I’ll have more competition. I WILL WIN THISSSS!!!

But, yeah. Airbnb is offering to put up 4 people for three months of the 2019 summer in the Town of Grottole, in Matera in Southern Italy through their “Italian Sabbatical Program.” This is a program that is aimed at reviving old towns that are sort of off the beaten path to try to revive them.

The deadline to apply is February 17, 2019, & I will provide the link with more information on it as well as the short survey and two short open ended questions.

May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor.
Mwahaha.

But seriously, y’all don’t know how selfish I was about to be & keep this a secret. That ain’t cool though. This is too cool to not share. Give it a try! Free to apply.

The Italian Sabbatical

Matera, Italy