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
Italy's one-euro home schemes aren't the only offers aimed at revitalizing rural villages. 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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Revealed: The most expensive places in Italy to buy a house in 2022

Many factors are at play when deciding where to purchase a home in Italy. To help you decide, here are the most expensive and sought-after locations in Italy, according to the latest data.

Revealed: The most expensive places in Italy to buy a house in 2022

Searching for the right property in Italy involves a balancing act of location, price, convenience and how much, if any, restoration work needs to be done.

Budget usually tops the list for house-hunters, narrowing down the number of potentials for making your move to or within Italy.

If the entire country is your blank slate, here are the areas in Italy that rank as the most expensive – and desired – according to data from property portal Idealista for the first quarter of 2022.

The report ranks the top 100 municipalities according to popularity, based on those listings generating the most leads (email contacts and shares) and those where the average final sale price is highest.

READ ALSO: How bargain homes made one Italian town €100 million in two years

Taking the top spot for the most expensive place to buy in Italy is Pietrasanta in Versilia, in the province of Lucca, which the researchers also state holds first place in the top 100 most expensive places to rent a house too.

This area includes the playground of the rich, Forte dei Marmi, where the average selling price of a house is over half a million euros (€541,351).

The table below shows the full ranking.

In second place is Alassio, in the province of Savona, where homebuyers will on average shell out €467,019 for a residential property (again, valid for the first quarter of 2022).

Venice comes in at third place, where the average asking price is €433,640.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The hidden costs of buying a home in Italy

In the top 10 spots, the report noted that the most expensive properties are in tourist resorts, possibly driven by those wanting second homes in popular locations.

Such locations include Lerici, Riccione, Desenzano del Garda, Camaiore and Cervia, while the cities of Florence and Milan, where average sale prices exceed €350,000, have also made the top 10.

The study revealed that the final average price of a house for sale in Rome is €273,341.

Researchers also looked at popularity of locations, based on pressure of demand on supply across Italy.

Bologna topped the charts, making it the city with the highest number of contacts per advert (4.7) of houses for sale published on idealista. Cagliari followed in second with 3.8 contacts per advert and Milan (3.4 contacts per advert). Trieste, Naples, Rome, Salerno, Brescia, Verona and Lecce also made the top 10.

READ ALSO: 15 insider tips to make living in Bologna even better

Here’s a selection of the most popular places to buy in Italy based on the report data, narrowed down to the top 20.

See more in The Local’s Italian property section.