Migration for better employment opportunities and a better quality of life has left many small towns in Italy almost empty. Many of these towns now have only the senior citizens, guarding the history and its stories. In the past too, many of these small towns had put out advertisements, offering to sell houses at $1 – the message being, come and stay, we will give you homes which are free, but someone please come and start staying here, populate the towns.
The latest - Zungoli near Naples and Sicily's Sambuca. The Sicilian town of Cammarata has gone one step further -- offering homes for absolutely nothing. Its Mayor, Vincenzo Giambrone has spent the last three years convincing owners who've long abandoned their family homes to hand over the empty, crumbling buildings to newcomers for free.
You can get the homes for “free” if you follow these rules laid out:
- Buyers must commit to renovating the property within three years of the purchase and pay a 5,000 euro ($4,300) deposit, which will be returned once the work is complete.
- They will also need to present a clear refurbishment proposal for the property in question.
- Young couples with children will receive priority.
- Couples who move there and go on to have a baby even receive a 1,000 euro bonus.
- New owners can transform the multi-story buildings into a private house, B&B, hotel, shops or even a restaurant.
The quality of life is so good that the town boasts Sicily's highest number of centenarians. "Fitusa," the healthy, sulfurous and smelly water that springs from underground is also thought to play a role.