More Italians are migrating to big cities, and every year around 200,000 leave to go abroad. Entire villages now stand empty. So small towns are providing incentives for incomers – like rent-free homes in Campania or one euro house prices in Sicily.
The Italian countryside is full of hilly landscapes, breathtaking panoramas and picturesque hamlets. Yet small towns and villages are dying out. Lack of jobs and poor infrastructure are driving people to leave. In the coming years, some 2,500 places could become ghost towns, although the Coronavirus pandemic has slowed this development.
During the strict lockdown, the Vittoria family from Naples decided to escape the confines of the big city. In the fall of 2020 they packed their belongings and moved to Teora in Campania. Here mayor Stefano Farina is trying to repopulate his small town by paying newcomers‘ rent for two years if they enroll their children in the local school. That’s also enticed the Greenwoods to move from Manchester, in the UK, to Teora with their four children. The town has acquired some thirty new residents from around the world and ensured the survival of its school.
Seven hundred kilometers to the south, Mussomeli in Sicily is selling abandoned homes in its old town for just one euro. Here, too, more than half of the buildings stand empty. The initiative has proved so successful an agency had to be founded to deal with prospective foreign buyers. They must commit to renovating the house within the next three years, but are not obliged to reside in Italy. Mussomeli is most concerned with saving its dilapidated town center.
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