Rome: What’s stopping you buying one of those homes that Italy keeps selling for less than the price of an espresso? Maybe it’s the fear of buying something sight-unseen, or anxiety over bureaucratic red tape and labyrinthine regulations?
Well, you might just have run out of excuses. Two Italian destinations, hoping to revive declining communities by luring new residents with homes priced at a little over a dollar, have launched websites that promise to match buyers with their dream property, relatively fuss-free.
So if you spot a photo of a house you like online, you can apply for one even before jumping on a plane.
“I’ve created a special task force of young volunteers who assist buyers, liaising with convenient construction firms for the restyle,” says Paolo Caruso, mayor of Zungoli, one of the villages offering bargain-rate houses.
“Transparency is key but people must really come see for themselves the beauty of the place, taste the great food and breathe the fresh healthy air.”
Zungoli is a tiny rural village, shaped like a snail, in the Campania region near Naples and the Amalfi Coast.
Set atop a sandstone hill, it’s a maze of caves and zig-zag, circular alleys connected by huge, uneven grass-covered cobblestone steps that wind up to a stunning fortress.
Named one of Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages in 2015 in a national award, it straddles the Apennine Mountains, equidistant from the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian coasts.
Medieval bridges lead to a cluster of blue, pink, green and yellow pastel-colored farm dwellings and dome-shaped aristocratic mansions where just 1,000 people live. Bright flowers adorn street corners and grapevines grow over arches and old olive mills.
Inside multi-layered Byzantine caves once used as storage rooms during the Crusades, teardrop-shaped Caciocavallo cheeses are now hung to season. Sounds good? Well here’s how you get a slice of the action… and maybe some of that cheese.
Step uno: Head to Zungoli’s official website — www.comunezungoli.it. On the left column, there’s a link titled “Case in vendita a €1.”
You might need Google Translate to help you out at this point, or some rudimentary knowledge of Italian (which would be no bad thing anyway if you’re thinking of living there.)
Step due: Click on the link and you’ll see dozens of 50- to 100-square-meter dwellings listed. They’re all in need of some TLC, so you’ll need some imagination.
Step tre: Download the application form for the property you like. At this point you commit to renovating one within three years and must explain the type of project — be it a private house, B&B or artisan shop.
Step quattro: Attach a copy of your ID and forward everything to the mayor’s office by email or mail.
Step cinque: If your plan is approved, Caruso will send you a contract and then it’s up to you to fly over to Italy and close the deal.
The catch: As with all these cheap home deals, buyers must pay a €2,000 security deposit and commit to refurbishing the property.