Italy’s rural towns just don’t have enough people in them. Most recently, the entire region of Molise offered visitors €25,000 to move there, provided they set up a business in one of the towns with less than 2,000 residents.
In June, I traveled to Sicily to visit some of the towns that had employed these schemes to see what they were really like. In particular, I stayed in Sambuca, a charming town that has received the most widespread media coverage.
While the town was even quieter than I anticipated, I was bowled over by the hospitality of its inhabitants who treated me like royalty.
Despite the luxuries, Casa Vacanze Al Zabut cost just $64 a night. Let’s just say staying in Sambuca won’t break your budget. On my first night in Sambuca, I wandered up the street to the Terrazzo Belvedere — an observation deck with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. With the sun setting over the Sicilian hills, I was astonished to have the terrace entirely to myself.
In May, Sambuca succeeded in selling off 16 historical but derelict homes to foreign buyers at auctions that started at just $1. More than 50 other homes were also sold by private owners. Gary and Tamara Holm (below) purchased a home for €19,000 ($20,880) while I was there.
There’s a tranquility to Sambuca that’s almost unearthly. The pace of life here is not just slower — it’s practically stationary. I’ll be back.