In the Italian town of Gangi, a house costs almost as much as an espresso. Egidia de Benedictis did not believe her eyes when she saw this.
"How can that be?" Benedictis told her husband. We have to see it ourselves! "
The Belgian couple decided in 2014 to travel to the small town in Sicily, located between the cities of Catania and Palermo, where the house costs one euro. Gangi is far from the bustle of Palermo, a two-hour car drive.
The German News Agency (DPA) reported that the town, which has 6,700 inhabitants, was built on a hilltop and has a magnificent view. In the old midtown, it feels like the time stopped between the Middles Ages, where stand the stone walls and innumerable churches.
The town is surrounded by a wonderful climbing area and wonderful views of Mount Etna. However, people cannot live in this town only because of its beautiful view.
Many, therefore, moved away, into larger cities or abroad. Former Mayor Giuseppe Ferrarello suggested allowing people to buy a house for one euro in Gangi, and buyers should, in return, approve to renovate the house they bought within three years; they also have to deposit a guarantee of 5000 euros, and they can take back this sum after they finish the renovation.
The Current Mayor Paolo Migliazzo proudly spoke about this idea, and said: "The goal is to modernize the historic center, to redistribute the population, and to support local craftsmen."
Some 100 houses have been sold in this way, and similar projects have been launched in Tuscany and Lazio.
Italian Alessandro Cilibrasi, who rarely leaves his cigarettes pack, is the broker responsible for the houses’ sale, along with his partner Santo Bevacqua.
On the town’s official page, people can see over 30 houses offered for sale, giving an initial impression on the available houses; but it is much better to get in Alessandro’s old Fiat and wander in Gangi streets.
Alessandro started the tour with a small house, with no light at the entrance, and just piles of garbage. It seemed that the ground floor was previously used as a stable, where the metal rings used to tie animals are still attached to the walls. "Beware, a staircase here," says Alessandro.
With a wide imagination, you can see how to make this house comfortable and rustic, but that will take a lot of work and money.
Benedictis, 69, says that in this house which costs one euro, everything is falling apart, so you must do much of the work. Alessandro offered the couple another house, which also needs renewal, but its condition was relatively good.
The Belgian couple decided to buy the house and invest 75,000 euros in it.
But can Italy’s fans and residents living in the town of Gangi, temporarily stop the decline of population in the town? This remains the question.