Author Frances Mayes reportedly purchased Bramasole, the villa that inspired the book “Under the Tuscan Sun,” for $140,000 — not to mention many more thousands in renovation costs.
But why pay for a home when you could get paid to live in one instead?
If your dream is to buy and renovate a historic home in the Italian countryside, than look no further than the idyllic region of Molise. The mountainous area on the southern Adriatic coast is offering €700 (about $770) per month for three years to live in one of its quaint, underpopulated villages.
Already packing your bags? There are some caveats: for starters, interested parties must pick a village with less than 2,000 residents. New neighbors also must pledge to start a business to help revitalize the village economy.
“If we had offered funding, it would have been yet another charity gesture,” Molise president Donato Toma told the Guardian. “We wanted to do more; we wanted people to invest here. They can open any sort of activity: a bread shop, a stationery shop, a restaurant, anything. It’s a way to breathe life into our towns while also increasing the population.”
He added that the undersized cities of Molise will also be awarded €10,000 per month to rebuild crumbling infrastructure and support local culture.
“It’s not just a matter of increasing the population. People also need infrastructure and a reason to stay, otherwise, we’ll end up back where we started in a few years,” said Toma.
The region of Molise, which covers about 1,714 square miles of southeastern Italy, is home to about 305,000 inhabitants, according to the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat). For comparison, Rhode Island is even smaller at about 1,200 square miles, yet has a population of almost 3.5 times that of Molise with 1.06 million people.
But Italian officials are concerned about Molise’s rapidly declining population, having lost around 9,000 people since 2014. In 2018 alone, 2,800 inhabitants died or moved away, and not a single birth was registered in nine of the region’s villages, the Guardian reports.
Italy is experiencing a nationwide dip in birth rate — the lowest it’s been since the unification of Italy’s regions in the late 19th century. Many young Italians are also moving out for more promising job opportunities in other European countries. Nearly 157,000 left Italy in 2018, according to Istat.
Toma is not the first to offer newcomers a steal on a new — er, old home. Earlier this year, Giuseppe Cacioppo, the deputy mayor and tourist councilor of Sambuca in Sicily, offered houses for just €1 in exchange for pledging to renovate the homes. Another Sicilian town, Mussomeli, began selling their homes for just €1 with the same promise to revitalize the neighborhood.
Seems that intrepid would-be homeowners are taking Italian leaders up on the deal.
“This is great, I’m flabbergasted by the response,” Cacioppo told CNN in January. “I haven’t come up for air since the story appeared.”
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