Daydreaming about packing up and moving somewhere new? A small town in Italy can help make those dreams a reality.
Presicce, which is situated in the Puglia region of Italy’s southern peninsula—in the heel of the country’s boot shape—is offering €30,000 (about $30,000) to anyone who will buy an empty house built before 1991, move in and live there, reports CNN’s Silvia Marchetti.
Like many sleepy communities across Italy, Presicce is grappling with a surplus of abandoned homes because people are moving away from the area. Homes up for grabs typically cost around $25,000, though they may require renovations. The $30,000 incentive can go toward buying a home, as well as fixing it up.
“There are many empty homes in the historical center built before 1991 which we would like to see alive again with new residents,” Alfredo Palese, a local town councilor, tells CNN. “It is a pity witnessing how our old districts full of history, wonderful architecture and art are slowly emptying.”
Three years ago, Presicce merged with a nearby community called Acquarica. That merger is bringing in more public funding to the territory, which is where the money for the revitalization project comes from. Together, the Presicce-Acquarica area is home to roughly 9,000 people, though many of those residents live in newer parts of town.
Efforts to help rebuild the region’s population don’t stop at housing. City leaders are also offering around $1,000 to parents for every newborn baby they have, reports TimeOut’s Ed Cunningham.
If the financial incentives aren’t enough to convince you, the location and scenery might help. Presicce dates to the Middle Ages and sits atop a network of underground chambers where farmers used stone mills to press olives for their oil. Above ground, the town has picturesque Baroque palazzos, main piazzas, chapels, votive columns, courtyards and winding alleyways. It’s also a short drive from Santa Maria di Leuca, a coastal town with pristine beaches and intriguing caves.
Presicce is not alone in its attempts to bring in new residents. Many other small communities have also made headlines for offering cheap housing to lure inhabitants. The practice dates back to at least 2008, when the mayor of Sicily’s Salemi offered up historic houses for just $1.
The concept’s popularity has grown in recent years, especially during the pandemic, when more people began working remotely. As of last fall, 34 towns in Italy had devised similar incentive programs, reported the Washington Post’s Harrison Jacob.
The Italian government hopes that reviving some of its small towns can help reboot the national economy.
“We don’t just want these places to just make beautiful postcards but, through technological development, to be places to live—places that attract residents and digital nomads,” Lucia Borgonzoni, Italy’s undersecretary for cultural heritage, activity and tourism, told the Los Angeles Times’ Janna Brancolini last year.