Rome: Now might be the time to turn those dreams of an Italian countryside home into a reality. The town of Biccari is selling off its fixer-uppers for €1 (about $1.20), or if you want to skip the work, fully functional homes starting at about €7,500 (about $9,023).
Located in the European country’s easternmost region of Puglia, also known as Apulia, the town — which had 5,000 residents in the 1950s — has seen a dwindling population, as many former residents have relocated to major cities or moved abroad, often leaving behind their abandoned dwellings.
“We’re barely 2,000 residents,” the town’s mayor Gianfilippo Mignogna said. “Depopulation is an open wound, a steady phenomenon. Locals keep leaving, and while most used to come back during the summer to visit, now they no longer do so. Many habitable houses are empty and are falling into oblivion.”
Mignogna noticed just how many of those “cute little homes” had been sitting with “For Rent” or “For Sale” signs. So, he decided to take matters into his own hands. “I thought the best way was to involve those no-longer interested owners to sell them right off,” he told the news outlet, which reported that there are about 12 homes available at the €1 level and 20 at the turnkey level, mostly in the €10,000 to €13,000 (about $12,030 to $15,640) range. But there may be more than 100 buildings looking for new occupants.
The city will soon put the properties on its town site, but the mayor is inviting interested parties to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He estimates that the turnkey homes may turn out to be a better value because of the work needed to restore the €1 homes. Those looking for the cheaper option also need to front €3,000 for renovations, which will be returned when the work is complete — likely in about three years.
The current available properties are all located in the town’s ancient district, surrounding a tower from the Middle Ages that’s now used as an exhibition space for art shows and museum displays.
The town is located in the foothills of Monte Cornacchia, which boasts sprawling views of the Adriatic Coast and Tremiti Islands. The area is filled with nature trails and outdoor activities. “We’re a corner of paradise, ideal for slow tourism,” Mignogna said. “The fresh mountain air and natural surroundings offer a detox, [an] unplugged stay far from city chaos, pollution, and noise.”
Biccari is among many small Italian towns looking to recruit new residents. In 2019, Cammarata in Sicily offered free houses to those who would move and raise a child there, Molise welcomed newcomers with $27,000 to start a business in the region, and Locana recruited families with $10,000. And earlier this year, the Sicilian village of Troina offered buyers €1 homes and up to €25,000 for renovations.