If you’ve ever wanted to live in a picturesque Italian village, now’s your chance – you can buy a house in one for less than £1.
Ollolai, nestled in the mountain region of Barbagia on the island of Sardinia, is offering 200 abandoned stone dwellings for the bargain price of just €1 (90p) each.
The town’s population has halved over the past three decades, with just 1,300 people – mostly middle-aged childless couples – left, according to the local.it.
With just a small number of babies born each year, Ollolai’s mayor decided to prevent the population plummeting further by launching the ‘houses for €1’ scheme in 2015.
But there is a catch – as well as purchasing costs, buyers must commit to refurbishing each dwelling, which is all in a poor condition, within three years at an estimated cost of up to €30,000 (£26,000). They can sell their home after five years if they wish.
Despite the extra costs, Ollalai’s mayor is confident that the town’s beauty and past will lure people in.
‘My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion,’ Efisio Arbau said, according to CNN.
‘Pride in our past is our strength. We’ve always been tough people and won’t allow our town to die.’
Once the capital of Barbagia, Ollolai’s once-buzzing piazzas are now much quieter after families abandoned their homes and younger residents left for big cities.
Many of the homes have been left unoccupied, falling into ruin, for decades.
So Mr. Arbau contacted former homeowners, including shepherds and farmers, and asked them to sign their properties over to the town’s authorities.
After approving a special decree, the homes were placed on the market.
His plan to bring ‘our grandmas’ homes back from the grave’ and revive the local economy appears to be working.
The first to snap up a two-story home for less than the cost of a loaf of bread was retired builder Vito Casula and his wife in the spring of 2016.
The couple, who lived nearby in Sardinia but often visited Ollolai, grabbed the opportunity after spotting an ad in a local newspaper.
He’s refurbished it with environmentally friendly materials but retained the original décor.
And Mr. Casula recommends the town highly to anyone to looking to leave behind stress for a ‘peaceful, healthy life.’
He added that the town also boasts delicious food and friendly, welcoming residents.
Following media reports, authorities the town started to receive applications for houses from all over the world.
By late 2017, they’d received 120 applications from countries including the United States, Australia, and Russia – with Mr. Arbau saying many of them came from second-generation immigrants who wanted a home in their native land.
The high interest has led to a deadline of February 7 being set for applications, after which they will be assessed in order in which they were made.
But unsuccessful applicants have another option – a number of others towns threatened by depopulation are running the scheme, including Montieri in Tuscany, Patricia in Lazio and Lecce de Marsi in Abruzzo.
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