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Homes On Sale…for €1

Sarah Litchman

 

To solve the problem of the abandonment of Italian villages, some Italian towns have decided to place on the market houses in shambles for 1 euro.

 

The first council to announce the decision was Salemi, a small town in the Sicilian province of Trapani hit by an earthquake in 1968. In 2008, its mayor Vittorio Sgarbi, an influent Italian personality, attempted the redevelopment of his city by selling the vacant buildings of the historic center to privates in exchange for their restructuring. Although a failure, the idea was used by other mayors around the country.

 

One of them was Nicola Verruzzi, mayor of the small Tuscan town of Montieri.

 

“There is a much deeper theme… So close to everything, but so far: over the years they greeted young people, who have not returned,” Verruzzi said.

 

Reachable from the coast on a single, almost deserted road which from Follonica plunges into the belly of Tuscany, Montieri is still making a call for help to restore the city.

 

Wood continues to be a resource for the land and life of the village. Despite no longer used as fuel for mining, for centuries was the main economic activity of the municipality. In 1994, the last pyrite mine of Boccheggiano, a village in the nearby, closed down, bringing down the population of the village from almost 6,000 to just over 1200.

 

Abandoned and in shambles, the houses of the old miners are still on sale for $1, as far as the buyer commits himself to restructure his new property.

 

“No one has taken care of the city over the years and she has felt free to become a ruin in the center of the country, in front of the well-kept flower pots and the polished wooden shutters,” said Verruzzi.

 

The majority of owners who have purchased the abandoned homes are not residents of the area but are foreigners, which has allowed them to hand over their rights of ownership.

 

Another village where it is possible to do good business is Ollolai, in the mountain region of Barbagia on the island of Sardinia.

 

“We boast prehistoric origins,” says Efisio Arbau, mayor of the town.  “My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion.”

 

Ollolai’s population has shrunk from 2,250 to 1,300 within the past half century, leaving its residents fearful of living soon in a ghost town.

 

Despite their conditions, some houses have been sold. The buyers? Even in this case non-Italian.

 

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