Whether it is the Alpine villages or the seaside towns of Sicily, almost everyone has at least once dreamed of disappearing into the Italian countryside to try the sweetness of life.
Well I know I definitely did.
At some point between my eighth cover of “Call Me by Your Name” and a road trip along the Amalfi Coast, I thought to myself that the only way I would be truly satisfied would be to relax in a secluded, surviving villa. on a diet of pasta and endless Aperol Spritz.
But true to the still millennial stereotype, my ambitions do not match my bank balance. So I was over the moon to find a glut of houses offered at only â¬ 1.
Surely it is too good to be true? And if not, what’s the deal with these houses that Italy is basically giving away?
Here’s how the â¬ 1 Village program works and some of our favorite places in the country are worth a visit.
Why are they selling the houses so cheap?
Behind this diagram hide unfortunate facts about life in the countryside. For most Italians, a rural lifestyle is simply no longer affordable.
For years, many Italians moved to the cities to find work, which left many villages almost completely depopulated.
As these idyllic villages started to look like ghost towns with crumbling dilapidated houses, municipalities bought the buildings from owners to try and resell them.
The price of â¬ 1 is a symbolic gesture because if you buy one of the houses, you also agree to renovate it.
An essential part of the deal is that you start a home improvement project within a year of purchase and cover all legal and construction costs.
Yeah yeah. Let’s put the brakes on. Looks like it will cost a lot more than the original â¬ 1, doesn’t it?
Simply put, it will mean spending a lot more. Italy offers a “superbonus” tax exemption for buyers that covers a whopping 110 percent of eligible construction expenses.
The types of business expenses included are for work such as replacing heating or air conditioning or âseismic structural improvementsâ to improve building safety.
How much will the renovation actually cost then?
Well, it will depend on each property. But multiple sources give figures between 30,000 and 40,000 â¬. So while you might not be able to live in this place for a few pennies, it’s definitely a lot more accessible than that townhouse you’ve observed in central London.
Where to buy a house in Italy?
Throw a dart at a map of the famous boot, and you’ll likely come to a village looking for people to steal their properties for next to nothing.
The available houses can be located in anything from a small isolated village to a bustling city center, so it’s worth going to Italy on your own to see all the potential places that intrigue you.
But for now, here are three places we found that caught our eye.
3. Fabbriche di Vergemoli, Tuscany
In the Tuscan hills lies the ancient village of Fabbriche of Vergemoli. With ancient Roman history and a population of less than 1,000, this is the perfect place to relax, listen to the tumultuous waters of the Turrite River and experience your best.
It is a short walk from the charming town of Lucca and not too far for day trips to Florence or to the beach. So you can be assured of things to do while relaxing in one of Italy’s most luxurious areas.
2. Mussomeli, Sicily
To have the chance to discover the wonders of southern Italy, there is nothing better than the island of Sicily.
Fancy a big city in the heart of the island? Look no further than Mussomeli. With nearly 11,000 residents and 750 meters above sea level, the new owners of Mussomeli can expect to enjoy a historic town center with a 14th century castle at its heart.
What better place to immerse yourself in this famous Sicilian cuisine. Another serving of Arancini for the table, please!
1. Borgomezzavalle, Piedmont
Fancy something a little different? In the mountains near the Swiss border lies the picturesque Antrona Valley where Borgomezzavalle is hidden.
Surrounded by woods and lakes, Borgomezzavalle gives you the chance to be part of an exclusive alpine village unique to the north of the country.
Will Brexit Affect Me?
For Brits reading this article, you might be wondering if this dream is still achievable now that the UK has left the EU.
Unfortunately, the answer is, it’s not as easy as it used to be.
You can still buy properties in Italy no matter where you are from, but since you are not a member of the EU you would only do so as a ‘non-resident’. This means that you can only stay in the house 180 days a year and no more than 90 days at a time.
To spend more time in your property, you will need to apply for residence, which means that you will have to prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself without a job in Italy.
So, would this London-based writer still fancy a dilapidated â¬ 1 house in Italy that I would have to renovate and couldn’t live in for more than half the year? I have already started to consider a name change from Jonny to Giovanni.