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A Town Near Rome is Selling Old Homes for $1, a Trend Across Italy in Many Beautiful Villages

If you’re the mayor of a rustic 800 year-old town with just 1,000 people, how can you stop the town from fading away as young people move to the major cities? How about you sell all the empty properties for one euro?

44 towns in Italy are currently listed under the €1.00 House Project, which serves the triple-purpose of saving old abandoned real estate from condemnation, repopulating historic towns with dwindling populations, and allowing young people a super-easy entrance into the real estate market for the purposes of investment or starting a family.

These towns are the kinds of places that we Americans could never believe could be abandoned, and that delight us with their antiquity.

The €1.00 House Project allows mayors of small towns to put their empty properties up for sale for just one euro. Housing agreements are for three years typically, and struck with a deposit of €5,000 euro from the buyer to ensure the property will be restored.

A detailed plan of the restoration, be it for the purpose of a restaurant, a B&B, or a normal home, must be agreed upon, and at least semi-permanent residence is encouraged, reports CNN, who took a look a Maenza in Lazio.

Here are some other towns looking for fresh oxygen.

Pignone – La Spezia – Liguria

Pignone/Davide Papalini, CC license

The beautiful town of Pignone, or “feather,” is located in the La Spezia Province of southeast Liguria, near the Cinque Terre National Park, made famous by Rick Steves.

“Ancient is the history of Pignone that dates back to some finds in the Bronze Age,” writes the listing on the €1.00 House Project website. “The village is without walls but the compactness of the houses, leaning against each other, forms a defensive barrier along the canal that crosses it. To enter the village you have to cross a characteristic Romanesque bridge in the form of a “donkey’s back” built around 1500.”

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As part of the Valley of Vara, Pignone is the sight of corn, legume, and potato cultivation, the former of which is very important as it goes towards the production of polenta, a regional staple. Every year at the end of summer, a farmer’s festival is held in town attended by hundreds of people to showcase the local products.

Sambuca – Agrigento – Sicily

Sambuca/Mboesch, CC license

A hilly town about 900 feet above sea level, Sambuca is inhabited by around 6,000 people and has the honor of being included in the club of the most beautiful villages in Italy.

Founded by Arabs around 1,000 CE, the city center still carries many of the architectural motifs of the Islamic travelers. It was one of the first towns to offer old houses for €1.00, and it’s famous for sheep cheese, focaccia, and is part of the National Association of Wine Cities.

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There’s regular theater, hiking on the nearby mountain, and a short drive to the beach. Literally what’s not to love?

Oyace – Aosta – Valle D’Aosta

Oyace/ Patafisiki, CC license

Located in one of the lesser-known regions of Italy, Oyace is a tiny little mountain hamlet that offers perspective home buyers a totally different kind of Italy.

“The mayor Stefania Clos is eager to repopulate her mountain village, where 200 people currently reside,” reads the listing on the website. “From Roman times, the town of Oyace has its main economic resource in the breeding of livestock and [is] an excellent producer of Fontina.”

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A hearth and stove in Oyace gives the strong-legged homeowner access to the highest massifs in Europe, for trekking, stargazing, camping, skiing, and more.

Romana – Sassasri – Sardinia

Romana/Gianni Careddu, CC license

Surrounded by karst rock landscapes and evidence of prehistoric civilizations, Romana is not your average island town. Instead a house in Romana, with its muraled streets and walls will make one feel part of a very old way of life.

Numerous nearby churches lie carved into the walls of cliffs or established in caves, while the agropastoral life which dominated this elevated volcanic plain means that amazing local meat and cheese is available for cheap.

“For those who love nature and immersion in ancient history, Sardinia and the municipality of Romana are the right place to plan your dream 1 Euro House Project,” writes the website. “We must not forget that you are only a 45-minute drive away from the most beautiful sea in Sardinia.”

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