Idyllic Italian town gives away homes for free after buildings left abandoned

‘I can’t stand to see this gorgeous, old historical centre empty,’ says mayor

Helen Coffey
Monday 04 November 2019 11:17
Italian village gives away free homes in hopes of boosting tourism

Another Italian town has resorted to giving away historic buildings for free in order to attract new residents and revive its fortunes.

Cammarata in Sicily is the latest destination to lure inhabitants with the promise of complimentary housing after more than 100 buildings in the historic centre have been left abandoned.

Vincenzo Giambrone, the mayor of Cammarata, has convinced former owners of these buildings to give them to those who can breathe new life into the town.

“I can’t stand to see this gorgeous, old historical centre empty and turn into a ruin,” he told CNN Travel. “It hurts me.”

So far there are around 12 empty homes up for grabs, with Giambrone hoping to add more in the near future.

However, as with similar schemes, there are some conditions.

Prospective owners must agree to renovate their new house within three years, and present a full plan on how they’ll refurbish the property.

A €5,000 (£4,320) deposit is also required, returnable upon completion of the works.

The town itself is made up of red-hued stone dwellings surrounded by verdant fields, with unbeatable views to the dramatic Mount Etna, an active volcano.

Cammarata prides itself on its hospitality, according to Giambrone, meaning new residents should hopefully receive a warm welcome: “Visitors and guests come first, even before our own family.

“Newcomers trigger change, innovation, new ideas. They revamp the local economy and can kick start a revolution.”

The scheme will prioritise applicants who are young couples with children; those who have children after they move to Cammarata will even receive a €1,000 (£864) bonus. Houses can be viewed on the town website.

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Cammarata is far from the first Italian town to combat the issue of a dwindling and ageing population.

The Case a 1 Euro scheme aims to revitalise unloved Italian villages and encourage residents back following an exodus to urban areas.

Zungoli in the Campania region of southern Italy and Mussomeli in Sicily joined a handful of other villages and towns across the country in April 2019, when both started offering crumbling homes for €1.

Like in Cammarata, owners have to commit to refurbishing homes in the three years from the date of purchase.

In January, homes in the Sicilian town Sambuca also went on sale for just €1, with the condition that the new owners must invest €15,000 (£12,962) into doing up their new home within three years.

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