The Italian towns launching alternatives to one-euro homes

Though the number of Italian towns selling abandoned houses for a euro is still growing, some have found the scheme unworkable and are coming up with other ways of luring new residents.

The Italian towns launching alternatives to one-euro homes
Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Selling old homes for one euro is not an easy task. Even though many villages across Italy have successfully launched the scheme, there are others which have not fared so well.

This is mainly because the owners of abandoned houses were impossible to track down and the bureaucratic obstacles to dispose of the buildings proved huge. 

So, instead, they’ve come up with winning alternatives to lure new people and breathe new life into their depopulating communities.

The towns of Carrega Ligure in Piedmont, Latronico in Basilicata, Biccari in Puglia and Troina in Sicily have launched websites to showcase cheap, renovated homes, and have opened real estate agencies employing legal and technical experts to support interested buyers in contacting old owners who have abandoned their family homes.

“We attempted in 2014 to sell stone mountain cottages for one euro, but over the past decades the owners had all migrated beyond the Alps and we couldn’t get hold of them”, says Carrega Ligure mayor Luca Silvestri. “Also, the properties were divided among too many heirs which made things way too complicated.”

READ ALSO: The red flags to watch out for when buying an old house in Italy

“So we thought the best way was to help locals willing to offload their old homes by giving them an online platform, handled by village authorities, where they can either sell or rent the properties. Supply meets demand.” 

Occasionally some stunning villas and farms, in pristine areas, are also put up for auction to the highest bidder.  

Latronico and Biccari discovered that placing cheap homes on the market was a greater lure than trying to sell houses for one euro.

Both towns have now launched official websites where buyers can see photos, details, maps of available properties and even book a tour.


“Paradoxically, having given up on the €1 home project has turned out to be very successful,” says Latronico deputy mayor Vincenzo Castellano.  

“You need to push the owners to dispose of their old properties, if it’s just for one euro they won’t even bother. But if the price is higher, it’s an incentive”, 

Often, the one-euro scheme is just a bait to lure investors and revitalize the real estate market. 

Montieri, in Tuscany, initially advertised old houses for one euro but then placed them on the market starting at €20.000. 

Other spots have come up with appealing financial incentives to attract foreigners and reverse the dwindling population. 

The remote Alpine village of Locana, in Piedmont, recently offered to pay up to 9,000 euros over three years to families willing to move in and take up residency amid the snowy peaks and green valleys, as long as they have at least one child and a minimum yearly salary of 6,000 euros. 

READ ALSO: Italy heading for demographic ‘crisis’ as population set to shrink by a fifth

Meanwhile, the nearby town of Borgomezzavalle offers 1,000 euros for each newborn plus 2,000 euros to outsiders willing to start a business and register for VAT. 

Badia Polesine also offers each family willing to settle down a one-off €1,000 incentive. 

Several regions have implemented the so-called ‘residency income’, including Piedmont, Emilia Romagna and Molise, based on paying families up to €30.000 for three years to move to live in a rural, mountain or offbeat village with less than 2.000 residents and packed with empty homes. 

Troina’s mayor Sebastiano Venezia even pays new owners to settle down for good: “If you buy a fully-renovated house in the town’s ancient district, and want to take up residency among us, the town hall will gift you up to 8,000 euros”. 

Also, home buyers in Troina won’t pay property and city services taxes for three years and are entitled to free kindergarten for their children and free school shuttle. Plus, there are ‘restyle bonuses’ of up to €20,000 available for ‘green’ renovations of old cheap homes.


In Cabella Ligure, a tiny village in Piedmont, buyers of cheap homes get tax breaks for renovations and get to pay lower property tax even if it’s their second home. 

Discounted rentals are another great alternative. In an attempt to attract newcomers, Santa Fiora in Tuscany pays digital nomads up to 50 percent of their rent, for up to €200 euros, for long-term stays of up to 6 months. 

Rentals in the village are quite low, in the range of €300-€500 monthly, so remote workers could end up paying as little as €150 per month.

“We have a brand new website where, along with details of available rentals, we’ve also put everything useful an outsider might need to live here and feel at home like a local: contacts of plumbers, babysitters, doctors, electricians and food delivery shops”, says mayor Federico Balocchi. 

The mayor however stresses that remote workers must show proof that they’ll actually be working, and not just holidaying under the Tuscan sun: “They need to forward to the Comune, by registered PEC email, a detailed plan of the project they’re working on, or a letter from their employer saying they’ll be working remotely for a while”. 

READ ALSO: Will Italy really pay you to move to its ‘smart working’ villages?

Foreigners who’d like to do business in Santa Fiora, for example by opening a B&B or restyling an old cottage into a hostel, could be granted up to €30.000. And there’s even a ‘baby bonus’ of up to €1,500 euros for each newborn.

Balocchi explains: “there are no visa requirements whatsoever for EU nationals, however for non-EU nationals visas are needed if they intend to work here.”

“They do not need the visa if they come for just three months as tourists and rent a house to look at the town, to get a feel for the village”, he says.

In fact, all foreign nationals are eligible to benefit from these schemes, as there are no restrictions or quotas based on nationalities or countries of origin

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EXPLAINED: How much are house prices rising in Italy?

After uncertain forecasts, Italy has recorded the biggest jump in house prices for more than a decade. Here's how the property market is changing.

EXPLAINED: How much are house prices rising in Italy?

House prices in Italy rose by 3.8 percent on average in the last 12 months, according to data released by the national statistics institute Istat on Monday.

This was the biggest annual increase recorded since the House Price Index (IPAB) measuring changes in property prices in Italy was launched in 2010, Istat said.

READ ALSO: Where in Italy are house prices rising fastest?

The average price of new-build homes rose by 6.1 percent during that period, while existing properties recorded an increase of  3.4 percent.

This may not sound like a major change, particularly when compared to the steep price increases seen in countries such as the UK in recent years, but Italy’s property market has long been relatively stagnant.

Until the end of 2019, Italy had been one of the only countries in the European Union recording stagnation and decline in property prices.

This trend changed during the pandemic, as the first slight increase in house prices for years was recorded at the end of the first quarter of 2020

Despite the jump recorded in 2022, many years of falling or flatlining house prices have meant that overall since 2010 average prices have decreased by 9.5 percent overall. 

Italy’s house prices vary significiantly by region, city, and property type. Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash

The low values of the large number of older properties on the market in Italy have long been the main factor weighing average values down.

Istat records show that, while the prices of new homes have risen by 14.2 percent since 2010, existing properties have seen their value fall by 17.1 percent.

Italy’s property market also shows strong regional variations: in 2022, price growth was particularly marked in northern Italy (+3.4 in the north-west and +4.2 in the north-east) and much lower in the centre (+1.9). The south and islands together recorded a small increase of just +0.6 percent.

IN MAPS: How Italy’s property prices vary by region

In all areas, price rises were seen for new build properties while older properties lost value.

At the start of the year, some experts cautiously predicted that house prices will continue to rise, albeit very modestly, in 2023.

But the president of Italy’s National Consumers’ Union, Massimiliano Dona, was less optimistic when commenting on Istat’s latest data

“Well, excellent news! It’s a positive fact that the value of Italian homes is growing. Unfortunately however, things are destined to get worse soon,” he said.

“The sudden rise in interest rates decided by the ECB, by driving up the cost of mortgages, will produce a drastic reduction in buying and selling volumes, which are already down, not surprisingly, by 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022 with negative consequences on house prices.”

See more in The Local’s property section.