You’ve probably seen the headlines about the hundreds of homes being flogged for pennies in Italy recently. They were even unloading castles for practically nothing!
Italians used to have more kids, but now they have the lowest birthrate in Europe. That means people are inheriting “extra” houses from Auntie Gina and Grandpa Roberto that once would have gone to siblings or cousins.
Mayors already scrambling to backfill their dwindling populations have come up with an innovative way of killing two birds with one stone — sell the houses for super cheap to anyone who is willing to commit to restoring them, with the long term goal of bringing life and tourism back to these areas.
For reasons ranging from the buildings not being earthquake-safe to the homes being repossessed because of mafia infiltration, the Salemi project was a failure. But it inspired other communities to create similar initiatives that have been quite successful — nearby Gangi received 1000 applications and had sold 100 houses by 2016.