Historic Italian town offering free homes to entice new residents

Nov 6 2019, 11:09 am

The housing market is a cruel and unforgiving mistress. If only there were a way to find a beautiful place to live for an affordable price. Time to take note, real estate moguls, Italy is coming for your tenants.

For years, Italian communities have been struggling to reinvite and revitalize themselves. As a result, many towns have resorted to selling homes for just over a dollar in an attempt to attract newcomers.

Recently, Sambuca in Sicily and Zungoli near Naples have implemented plans to promote deteriorated properties for literally just over one dollar as a means to lure new residents.

If you think that’s wild, just wait.

The Sicilian town of Cammarata has taken things to the extreme by offering homes for free — zero dollars.


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Mayor Vincenzo Giambrone is distraught at the thought that his hometown may succumb to depopulation. In an attempt to rectify the decreasing numbers, Giambrone has spent the last three years persuading owners who have long deserted their family homes to give up the empty, decaying structures to newcomers for free.

He told CNN Travel, “I can’t stand to see this gorgeous, old historical center empty and turn into a ruin. It hurts me.” Giambrone goes on to state that owners are ignorant of the damage they cause when they abandon their homes and refuse to update the ancient dwellings, claiming that it leaves a “deep scar” on the town while also risking dangerous collapses.


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Cammarata’s most ancient sector possesses at least 100 abandoned homes that have the potential to be rescued.

Naturally, this is not a no-strings-attached deal and there are a few conditions.

Those who wish to “buy” these homes are expected to renovate the property within three years from the purchase date as well as pay a 5,000 € ($7,300) deposit, which will be reimbursed once the work is finished.

They are also required to submit a refurbishment proposal for the specified property.

Young couples with children will receive priority for the free homes, although all potential buyers who meet the list of criteria will be considered. However, couples who choose to relocate and proceed to start a family have a further incentive in the form of a 1,000 € ($1,460) bonus.


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New owners have unlimited reign regarding how they choose to transform the multi-story buildings. They can turn them into private homes, hotels, shops, B&Bs, or even a restaurant.

Giambrone’s primary goal is that the town return to being a vibrant and lively place.

Cammarata is a member of a select group of authentic Italian villages facing decline who wish to preserve their charms and traditions. The town, rich in history, has seen a significant decrease in the number of residents over the years, and many homes remain abandoned to this day.

It is situated at an elevation of roughly 1,000 meters in southeastern Sicily and is best known for its small, sleepy villages and relaxed, laid back lifestyle.