Yet Another Italian Town Is Giving Away Historic Homes For $1

Bivona, Sicily
Photo: REDA&CO/Getty Images

Add it to the list: another Italian village is selling historic houses for $1 to those looking for a fixer-upper.

The town of Bivona in Sicily is the latest location to try to lure residents with the promise of cheap land. The town is also loosening restrictions and offering tax bonuses in an attempt to make their town stand out from the pack.

While other towns may require a $5,00 or more deposit for the $1 house, Bivona is hoping its $2,750 bond will attract more cost-conscious investors. (There are other towns that offer a similar deposit rate.) The town is also extending its mandatory renovation period to four years.

"Despite so many empty buildings, Bivona's old center is still vibrant, packed with history and very welcoming," Angela Cannizzaro, Bivona's culture councilor, told CNN. "We need to breathe new life into it."

The town dates back to the 1100s and boomed during the Renaissance and has the architecture and history to match. It’s surrounded by nature, with olive and orange groves, valleys and almond plantations on its outskirts. The town is hoping those who are enchanted by nature will want to scoop up a home. Those who purchase a building are free to use it as a home, hotel, B&B, restaurant or shop — although tax incentives will be given to those who decide to stay and live in Bivona.

However, the town must battle many others who are hoping to restart their populations and all their incentives. One town in Sicily is offering young families a cash bonus if they have a kid there.

The $1 house move is an increasingly-common tactic to bring people back to medieval Italian villages that have lost their populations in the last 100 years. Most of these towns are in southern Italy or Sicily, places known for their beauty but not necessarily for their economic prosperity.

In the early 2000s, half a million people left southern Italy due to a growing financial crisis and increasing poverty. The “economic exodus” was largest among people aged 15 to 34, leaving a big age gap in people who would be starting families in the town today.

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