Italian town gives away homes for free - and a cash bonus if you have a baby
By Mirror

 

About a dozen empty stone buildings are currently available [Getty Images/EyeEm]

An Italian town is giving houses away for free because it is so desperate to attract new residents - but there's a catch, obviously. The mountainside community of Cammarata boasts sweeping views of Mount Etna and gorgeous sunsets on the Mediterranean island of Sicily and is rich in history. 

But with its population dwindling and many buildings sitting empty, Mayor Vincenzo Giambrone has launched an ambitious scheme to save his home town and its historic centre. He is convincing owners of abandoned family homes to hand over the keys to the crumbling buildings to new residents who are willing to fix them up and put down roots. Couples who have a baby after moving in will be given a cash bonus.

Buyers must submit a refurbishment proposal, pay a 5,000 euro (£4,300) deposit and agree to renovate the property within three years. The deposit will be returned once the renovations are complete and the building is turned into a family home or a business such as a B&B, shop or restaurant. Priority is being given to young couples with children.

Couples who move in and later have a baby will be given a 1,000 euro (£865) bonus. Mr Giambrone told CNN Travel that he is determined to make the town, which sits at an elevation of about 3,200ft, a vibrant place to live again. He said: "I can't stand to see this gorgeous, old historical centre empty and turn into a ruin. It hurts me."

Mr Giambrone said some of the neglected buildings are at risk of collapsing. There are more than 100 abandoned houses in the town. About a dozen empty stone buildings are currently available and ready for new residents.

UK-based businessman Jose Augusto Manetta Ramos was tempted by the prospect of living in a sleepy village with a warm climate.

Calling it a "perfect retreat", the Brazilian-Italian sales executive said: "Cammarata is stunning, the green landscape, the sea and mountains are both nearby just like the Valley of the Temples (archaeological site) and other great spots."

Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, boasts hot and dry summers and mild and wet winters with snow over higher ground. A number of Italian towns have put homes up for sale for just one euro - with conditions - in a bid to revitalise themselves.

The hilltop town of Sambuca, Sicily, did so after undergoing depopulation as residents move to bigger cities with more conveniences. New owners must agree to refurbish their property within three years and pay a 5,000 euro deposit.

Zungoli, in the Campania region of southern Italy, and Mussomeli, also on the island of Sicily, have offered similar schemes to lure new blood. In Britain, an abandoned 12th Century pub has gone on the market for just € 1. The Mill Beach Pub in Heybridge, Essex, closed in November last year and is in need of a complete overhaul.