This Italian Town Wants to Sell Off Abandoned Homes for €1 – Why Is It Struggling to Do So?

Clare Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: Beatrice / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0
Photo Credit: Beatrice / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

In recent years, several Italian towns have sold properties for as cheap as €1 to reinvigorate their economies as their populations age. This has prompted other communities to do the same, including Patrica, in Frosinone. However, the mayor is finding the task to be more difficult than initially anticipated – and not because there’s not interest. It’s the owners of the abandoned homes that are causing problems.

View of Patrica on a snowy day
Photo Credit: Universal Archive / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

Patrica, located 70 km southeast of Rome, is a medieval town home to around 3,000 residents. According to CNN Travel, there are over 40 homes that have been abandoned since the early 1900s and, following in the footsteps of the likes of Mussomeli and Zungoli, Mayor Lucio Fiordaliso hoped to sell them to new owners who’d not only fix them, but also revitalize the community.

Speaking with the publication, he explained, “We first mapped all abandoned houses and made an official call out to the original owners to invite them to hand over their dilapidated family properties, but we managed to sell just two homes for one euro.”

The reason for their lack of success: the owners of these abandoned homes refuse to sell their crumbling properties. While 10 initially showed interest, they withdrew their consent at the last minute. Everyone else refused to answer the call.

“We first need the availability of owners, or their heirs, in disposing of their old houses,” Fiordaliso told CNN. “Only then can we place these properties up for sale with their consent, which makes the process very complicated. Almost impossible.”

Building rising above several brick houses
Photo Credit: pietro scerrato / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

As the publication explains, one of the reasons for the lack of interest could be that more than one family member owns shares in the same property – a common occurrence in Italy. Unlike other Italian cities that have seen their populations decrease as a result of natural disasters, Patrica is required to get owner permission to put any abandoned structures on the market.

There’s also the issue that some owners simply can’t be tracked down, as they left the country or have changed their names. Given they likely owe back-taxes, the odds of them calling back are slim-to-none. “It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Fiordaliso explained to CNN.

Aside from issues with the owners, there’s concern over the sorry state of the majority of the houses the town has its eye on. The majority need to be renovated before they’d be ready for someone to live in.

View of Patrica on a semi-cloudy day
Photo Credit: pietro scerrato / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

With the home scheme failing to gain traction, Patrica’s government has had to look into other measures to attract new residents. This includes the opening of new businesses – a restaurant and two B&Bs – and tax benefits for foreigners who move to the town and start their own business.

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According to The Independent, 25 Italian communities are currently selling properties for €1.