As tourism gradually restarts in Italy, many of the country's depopulated towns are once again looking to sell off their dilapidated houses to foreigners for the price of an espresso.
With most of these towns being in remote areas, they have often also escaped the worst of the coronavirus pandemic – and the mayor of one small town in Calabria says that's exactly why people should choose to buy a house there.
A well as the scenery and local history, Michele Conia, mayor of Cinquefrondi in Calabria, pointed to the area's lack of confirmed Covid-19 cases as a reason for buyers to consider his one-euro house scheme.
The rural southern region of Calabria as a whole was one of the regions least affected by the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, with a relatively low count of 1,177 confirmed cases.
Far from the tourist trail, Cinquefrondi is in a mountainous area between Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria in the very south of the country, on the toe of Italy's boot.
Screenshot: Google Maps
Like the many other towns making such an offer, Cinquefrondi has suffered from depopulation as younger generations have left in search of work. Italy currently has 5,800 villages with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants each, all at risk of becoming ghost towns.
As well as bringing new life to the town, mayor Conio hopes investors will beautify the currently crumbling parts of the historic town.
Photo: Comune di Cinquefrondi
Of course, the real cost of buying such houses is far higher than the symbolic one euro sale price.
While other towns selling one-euro homes require a deposit of up to €5,000 ($5,635) – which the buyer forfeits if they fail to renovate the house within three years – Cinquefrondi authorities instead request an annual €250 policy insurance fee until works are completed.
However, new owners are liable to be fined €20,000 if they do not complete the work within three years.
“We're just asking for some kind of certainty once a new buyer commits to the project. The fee is very low and the cost of a restyle here is within €10,000 to €20,000, given the dwellings are cozy [and] tiny,” Conia told CNN.
The available houses are around 40-50 square metres in size.
There are around a dozen old houses currently on the market for one euro, which once belonged to farmers and shepherds. Conia says up to fifty could be made available if demand is high enough.
“If we receive a huge demand, I can expropriate all other buildings which have been empty for decades and the old owners are nowhere to be found.”
And he claims that the town has already been inundated with enquiries from far and wide.
“We believed in it from the beginning, and soon our abandoned houses will be inhabited by many tourists,” Conia wrote on the town's Facebook page on Thursday. “Just today, hundreds of requests have arrived from those who see Cinquefrondi as a strategic place to live.”