Have you been brushing up on one of the romance languages – Spanish, French, Italian – ever since the world went into lockdown? Have you found yourself daydreaming about getting away, getting out, getting on a road to somewhere exciting? Somewhere new? Somewhere different? Somewhere else?
Italy, then, just may be the place for you, particularly if you don’t have a huge wad of cash laying around for a down payment on a piece of real estate.
A tiny village in the region of Sicily, called Troina, is selling (giving away, really) homes just about for the asking, providing you’re willing to fix it up and renovate.
But if you don’t have the cash for that, either, once again you need not worry. The village is giving newcomers about 22,000 (British pounds), or the equivalent in euros, to spend on the renovations.
If this sounds like a dream come true – or a scam – it most definitely is neither. Italy has done this before elsewhere in the nation, in an effort to boost population growth and stimulate tax-generating businesses.
But Troina is not exactly a hubbub of urban activity; there is little to do there but hike and star gaze, and enjoy the mild temperatures and gorgeous landscape.
While that may not seem like enough activity, for people tired of crammed-in urban living, made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, moving to this Italian rural paradise might just be the perfect tonic for what ails them.
Troina is called the “Balcony of Sicily” because it is built in a mountainous rural region, with homes climbing up and around the hills.
The new scheme to reinvigorate the village is, in part, the brainchild of Mayor Sebastiano Fabio Venezia, who recently told CNN that he hopes the offer stimulates a lot of fresh buying activity. “I want to save our old district from the grave,” he said, “and recover its lost grandeur, when it was the Norman capital city of Sicily.”
Even though the offer may be tempting for many people fed up with crowded conditions in cities around the world, not everyone has the skills required to do home renovations.
In that case, perhaps purchasing a home that’s inhabitable is more appealing, and those types of dwellings are on offer, too.
For about 10,000 euros, folks can bid on (and get) homes that are in more or less move in ready shape. Of course, what defines “move in ready” in a village on a mountain in Italy may be the same as what that means to other people who live, for example, in Rome, New York, or London.
But if your curiosity is peaked, go to: and explore what Venezia and his colleagues have on offer. The homes will be listed shortly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is one catch – not a catch, really, more of a condition – and that is that upon purchase of a home, the buyer must put down a deposit of 5,000 euros when the renovations get underway.
But all the deposit is returned once work on the home is completed.
Is there anyone who hasn’t dreamed of escaping their living conditions, particularly if those conditions are crowded and depressing because of the pandemic, and heading for a rural setting that looks like something out of a Botticelli painting?
Now the opportunity presents itself, in the form of a once-in-a-lifetime offer to scoop up a home in the Italian countryside. But there are only 30 of them in the village’s inventory, so if you’re truly considering this adventure, it’s best you don’t delay.
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After all, there is nothing to lose by bidding and everything to gain if the wish for peace, quiet and a home of your own outweighs your fear of the unknown. This could be a chance to put all those lockdown language lessons to good use, and hone your skills as a handy homeowner.