Idyllic hilltop village in Italy offers abandoned houses for 90p

Idyllic hilltop village in Italy an hour from ski resorts and beaches offers its abandoned houses for 90p – in region that once offered newcomers €25,000 to live in its deserted hamlets

  • Castropignano in Molise, Italy, is offering abandoned homes for as little as €1
  • Mayor Nicola Scapillati wants to match developers with the right house for them
  • Molise offered new residents €25,000 to live in its deserted villages last year 

An idyllic hilltop village in Italy has become the latest to offer abandoned homes for as little as 90p (€1).

Castropignano, a medieval village located just an hour from ski resorts and beaches, is launching the scheme after newcomers in its region were offered £22,635 (€25,000) to live there.

Molise, situated between the peaks of the Apennine ridge and the Adriatic coast, offered the sum to live in its deserted villages after all of its young people moved away.

And now Catropiagnano has launched a €1-home scheme made popular in other villages in Italy, including Salemi in Sicily and Santo Stefano di Sessanio in Abruzzo.

Catropiagnano in Molise has become the latest to offer abandoned homes for as little as 90p (€1)

The medieval village (pictured) has launched a €1-home scheme made popular in other villages in Italy, including Salemi in Sicily and Santo Stefano di Sessanio in Abruzzo

The village’s abandoned houses today are located in its historical centre above a ruined castle bombed in WWII. Pictured: The arched entrance into the village centre

But rather than sell houses to the highest bidder as with other schemes, Catropiagnano mayor Nicola Scapillati wants to match developers with the right house for them.

He told CNN: ‘The scheme here works a bit differently.

‘I’m moving along two parallel paths, reaching out both to potential buyers and old owners at the same time, step by step, to make demand meet supply.

‘I don’t want my town invaded by a property stampede or to turn into the latest housing speculation deal.’

While not in bad shape, the buildings have unhinged doors, peeling paint and are partly covered in vegetation. Pictured: A narrow street between the old houses in Catropiagnano

The village is within reach of the the ski resort Campitello Maltese, as well as the Adriatic coast’s famous beaches. Pictured: Catropiagnano lit up at night

Castropignano’s location in Italy’s central Apennine mountains made it useful as a lookout for the the Samnites, who eventually defeated the Roman Empire

Catropiagnano has barely 900 residents today, down from 2,500 in the 1930s.

Following WWII, families emigrated from the village in search of better opportunities and in the 1960s, young people left for larger towns.

Their moves mean today 60 per cent of the village’s resident are older than 70.

The village was previously renowned as a centre for artisan shoemakers and cobblers.

The history of the stunningly beautiful Molise

The second smallest region in Italy, Molise has a population of 305,000.

It is divided between two provinces, Campobasso and Isernia.

The region is steeped in the history of the ancient Samnite tribes which ruled before the Romans, from around 600BC to 300BC.

After Roman rule, Molise was part of the Lombard duchy of Benvento, but it frequently changed feudal owners. 

Molise’s capital, Campobasso, is famed for the Manforte Castle and its old medieval walls.

Termoli on the Adriatic, also of Campobasso province, is renowned for the colourful fishermen’s houses which dot the shoreline and is a popular holiday destination for Italian families.

Isernia is the mountainous province and home to the national park which straddles the border between Abruzzo, as well as two ski resorts at Campitello Matese and Capracotta.

It is famous for its ancient trails, or ‘tratturi’, through which shepherds have guided their livestock for centuries.

Its location in Italy’s central Apennine mountains made it useful as a lookout for the the Samnites, who eventually defeated the Roman Empire.

The village’s abandoned houses today are located in its historical centre above a ruined castle bombed in WWII.

They are characterised by the area’s winding, cobbled roads and gargoyled arches. 

While not in bad shape, the buildings have unhinged doors, peeling paint and are partly covered in vegetation.

Scapillati estimates renovation would cost between £27,165 (€30,000) and £36,220 (€40,000). 

The village is within reach of the the ski resort Campitello Maltese, as well as the Adriatic coast’s famous beaches. 

Catropiagnano is by no means the first town in southern Italy to trial the one-euro-home project, with Cinquefrondi in Calabria doing the same thing in July and Mussomeli and Bivona, both in Sicily, trying it last year.

Interested buyers in Catropiagnano are asked to email Scapillati directly with a detailed plan of how they intend to restyle and what they would like to do with the property.

Scapillati said they should also list any requirements they may have, including access for people in wheelchairs.

In order to buy a home, interested parties must renovate the property within three years from the purchase.

Down payments of £1,812 (€2,000) are also required, which will be returned once the works are finished.

The scheme launched in October when Catropiagnano authorities told local homeowners their abandoned properties would be repossessed by the government if they were not renovated by themselves.

Most have already agreed to hand their properties over and Scapillati said he hopes at least 50 property owners will join.

He said dozens of interested buyers have already contacted him and he hopes the scheme would return the village to its former glory. 

It comes after the region Catropiagnano is located in, Molise, offered new residents €25,000 to live in its deserted villages

Molise, situated between the peaks of the Apennine ridge and the Adriatic coast, is famed for its national parks through which ancient trails weave their way.

Molise, situated between the peaks of the Apennine ridge and the Adriatic coast, (pictured on a map) is famed for its national parks through which ancient trails weave their way

The glorious village of Scapoli, noted for its international bagpiping festival each year, had a population of just 758 in 2011. After the Great War, the village had a population of more than 1,400

The town of Termoli on the Adriatic coast – it is a favourite tourist spot for Italian families, with a historic fishing port

But despite the glorious surroundings the population has declined by more than 9,000 since 2014 and not a single child was born in nine of its towns in 2018.

President Donato Toma announced every village with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants in his territory will offer €700 (£620, $770) per month for three years to newcomers who promise to open a business in September 2018.

Toma told the Guardian: ‘They can open any sort of activity: a bread shop, a stationery shop, a restaurant, anything. It’s a way to breathe life into our towns while also increasing the population.’

In addition, he promised each of the little towns will be granted €10,000 (£9,000, $11,000) every month to help improve its infrastructure and for cultural activities.

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