What We're Loving Right Now
An idyllic Caribbean retreat, the perfect weekender bag, a divine Basque tavern —...
Our Favorite Eats of the Year
Our editors weigh in on their most satisfying dining experiences.
Buying a property in Italy is no longer a lavish affair that requires an initial investment of millions of dollars. For a few years now, more and more Italian towns have been making the news by offering real estate for the symbolic sum of one euro. And last week, Laurenzana became the latest town to join in on the dollar home frenzy. The idyllic mountaintop village could become your next vacation destination if you agree to renovate your newly purchased home (there are about 50 properties on the market right now) in the next three years. Local authorities are even reducing notary fees and entirely waving the security deposit that usually runs in the thousands.
In 2008, the mayor of the quaint Sicilian village of Salemi pioneered the 1 Euro Houses project in an attempt to re-populate abandoned properties in the historic center of his village. While his initiative was delayed, many others across the country were inspired by the project. More than a decade later, many other municipalities all over Italy and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia have put up hundreds of properties for auction or sale attracting hordes of international investors looking to make Italy their second home. To qualify for one of those homes that are usually in pretty bad shape, you have to commit to redeveloping them in the near future—renovations should start immediately or within three months of your purchase and last not more than three years.
The project has proven so popular in Italy with thousands of applications coming in that even neighboring Switzerland, France, and Spain have launched similar initiatives.
Interested in learning more? Read on for a list of the most picturesque towns that have (and in some cases still) offer properties for sale and development in Italy.
This ancient Sicilian town is home to one of Italy’s most picturesque fortresses—the Enchanted Castle. Over the last couple of years, more than a hundred homes have found new owners here and more are available for purchase right now. You will need to pay a security deposit of five thousand euros that will be returned to you once you finish the renovation works.
The town has launched its own website with listings where you can download application forms and read more about the process.
This picturesque village located in Piedmont, on the Italian Swiss border, went even further to attract new residents. Not only did it offer multiple homes for sale for a single euro, but it also gave one thousand euros to new parents and another two thousand euros to new business owners.
Borgomezzavalle, which means “a town between valleys,” is located on a hillside in a canyon but, thanks to a huge mirror placed on the other side of the canyon, gets plenty of sunlight every day. The town is right next to the beautiful Val Grande National Park and is about a two-hour drive from lake Como and Milan.
Last year, the quiet Apennine town of Castropignano, located about an hour west of the Adriatic coast, put about a hundred properties for sale. The hilltop village overlooking the Biferno River valley dates back to the middle ages and is home to a medieval castle. The mayor of this quaint village played the role of a property matchmaker as all applications were emailed to him so he can match buyers with the best property for them. One thing to note is that the village’s narrow cobblestone streets do not accommodate cars, only motorcycles (so it’s the perfect spot to live out your Italian Vespa dreams). If you are also interested in acquiring a property in Castropignano, you can email email@example.com.
RELATED: Italian Town Less Than Three Hours From Rome Is the Latest to Sell Homes for €1
Luserna is another scenic Piedmont village on the France/Italy border that had a very specific approach to repopulation. It offered four homes to couples aged between 18 and 40 and required interested applicants to commit to taking an active part in the life of the village. In return, it promised support and help by the Franco Demarchi Foundation, a local organization involved with the social development of local communities.
Located in inland Calabria, Cinquefrondi launched its own “Operation Beauty” project to find new owners for multiple properties at the cost of one euro. To qualify, potential buyers were asked to pay an annual insurance policy of $300, and finish renovations within three years (otherwise, they could face a $24,000 fine).
The village has pretty much hit the location jackpot as it is surrounded by the natural beauty of Aspromonte National Park and is less than half an hour away from both the Ionian and Tyrrhenian coasts. Cinquefrondi dates back to Byzantine times and its landscape is dotted with olive groves and Greek ruins.
The Mediterranean island of Sardinia is famous for its sun-kissed beaches, crystal clear waters, and fresh seafood. Sardinia also has one of the highest number of centenarians in the world thanks to the clean air and stress-free lifestyle of its residents.
The small mountain town of Ollolai that sits at the heart of the island became a household name in Europe when in 2018 it started selling houses for one euro. The announcement caused a tourism boom and a Dutch TV station even filmed a reality show there documenting five couple’s journeys at renovating one of the homes (later, the winning couple moved to Ollolai permanently and opened a B&B.)
Another Sicilian town, Troina, announced in January that it also plans to sell several houses for one euro each. Located at the heart of the island, the ancient town’s origins can be traced back to prehistoric times. It was also the first capital of Sicily. The town has a rich architectural heritage, idyllic plazzas, and winding cobblestone streets.
Its mayor, Sebastiano Venezia, told Italian website Idealista.it that in just a month, he has received more than 4,000 requests from all over the world and many have already booked trips to visit the village in the coming months. The goal behind the project is "to repopulate and revitalize the historic center and create a cultural exchange,” according to Venezia. There were about 30 homes available for purchase at the beginning of the project and another one hundred expected to come ont the market in the future.
Located about 50 miles southeast of Palermo, this Sicilian town was one of the first to offer abandoned properties for sale. The picture-perfect village (that was also named the most beautiful village in Italy in 2014), sits on a mountaintop and dates back to ancient Greek times.
The mayor told CNN that the project has been a complete success with over 160 properties getting makeovers and revitalizing the town’s historic center.
Biccari’s approach to offering fixer-uppers is a bit different than that of other Italian towns. Aside from single euro-homes—about 12 of which were available for purchase in January and more than one hundred expected to come on the market in the future—the town is also luring new residents with turnkey-ready dwellings that cost between 10,000 and 13,000 euros.
If you are ready for a big renovation project though in the Italian countryside, you can email Biccari’s mayor at: firstname.lastname@example.org and get all the details on your next real estate investment.
RELATED: How Lake Como Is Quietly Becoming Italy's Coolest Destination
Zungoli is a small village near Naples and the world-famous Amalfi coast, which started offering bargain-rate houses in 2019. The beautiful mountaintop village is the epitome of a fairy-tale town—stone houses, a maze of alleys, there are even a castle and medieval bridges.
More than 30 one-euro houses were sold in Zungoli and the village’s mayor told CNN that the project has revitalized the local economy and has created jobs.
This small Sicilian village made headlines in 2019 when it announced it planned to offer homes for a symbolic sum. The response was so overwhelming though (more than 110,000 requests), that authorities decided to auction the properties instead and only one house actually sold for a single euro. The Sopranos actress Lorraine Bracco even filmed a show about renovating one of the houses. Many of the buildings here were destroyed in a 1968 earthquake and have remained uninhabited since then.
In January this year, authorities said that another batch of 15 historic properties will likely come on the market as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.