An increasing number of small towns in Italy are selling homes for the symbolic price of €1 ($1.13) 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 starting anew somewhere with a slower pace of life and a good deal of sunshine, these towns are probably a good place to start.
Sambuca di Sicilia is the Sicilian province of Agrigento, named the most beautiful in Italy in 2016, launched a campaign in January to sell empty homes at the symbolic price of €1. Mayor Leonardo Ciaccio said he received enquires from artists, dancers and musicians from all over the world when the campaign launched. And new residents have already arrived and are fixing up houses and moving in. Speaking to the BBC, Ciaccio said “it all worked out very nicely.”
Zungoli is located not too far from Naples and the Amalfi Coast in the Campania region. It’s a town famous for its traditional terrace and stone houses, some of which are part of the €1 scheme. It’s also an exceptionally pretty place with an old fortress, designed to protect it from Byzantine attacks, as well as churches and old palaces in its maze of alleyways. Potential buyers interested in moving must download an application form for a home, specify their renovation plans and agree to move within the next three years.
Gangi, located in the Palermo province of Sicily, was voted ‘most beautiful town in Italy’ in 2014. Perched on top on Monte Barone, it is surrounded by greenery with Mount Etna looming in the background. Since it launched its €1 house initiative, it has received more than 2000 applications. Little by little the town has regained some of its ancient splendour. Up to 108 houses have been snapped up and according to the New York Times, half of the new residents are Sicilians looking for weekend homes. Find out more here.
Ollolai in the Barbagia region of Sardinia joined the €1 House scheme in 2015 when its population dwindled to 1300. Up to 200 stone houses were put up on the market and buyers were warned that they’d need to spend between €20,000 and €30,000 to make them inhabitable. That didn’t seem to put people off. Such was the demand for homes that the mayor imposed a deadline in February 2018 to limit applications.
In Cammarata the population has been dwindling for years as younger people seek job opportunities in big cities. With his town risking extinction in the coming decades, Mayor Vincenzo Giambrone is convincing homeowners to who have left the town to turn their homes over to the €1 scheme. At present there are about a dozen empty stone houses available, with more to be added. If you move to the hilltop town, you’ll have cheese shops, bakeries, fruit and vegetable markets, pizzerias and wine bars all nearby. You can sign up here.
Molise, in the Abruzzo region, isn’t selling homes for €1 but it does have another way of enticing new residents. In 2019 it launched a scheme called “Active Residence Income” to fight depopulation, revitalise the economy and create new jobs. To do so, it’s paying all new active residents €700 each month for a maximum of three years to help them create and develop their own business in the town.