An Italian town sells its abandoned homes by auction starting at just € 1


A beautiful town in Sicily has become the latest in the growing trend in Italy by auctioning its abandoned homes for 1 euro each with the aim of reversing the population emigration.

Picturesque Sali will sell some of its dilapidated properties for a pittance in an effort to bring people back to the city, as it has seen its population shrink dramatically over the past 50 years, after at least 4,000 residents fled following an earthquake in 1968 in the Peles Valley in Sicily. 

“All buildings belong to the city council, which speeds up sales and reduces red tape. Before launching the scheme, we had to first improve the old parts of Salmi town where the homes are located, and improve the infrastructure and services,” the city’s mayor, Domenico Venuti, told CNN. Roads to electricity networks and sewage pipes. Now the city is ready for the next step. “

Salemi is by no means the first city in southern Italy to try out a € 1 home project.The town of Cinquefordi in Calabria did the same last July, and Musomelli and Bivona, both in Sicily, tried the same plan last year.

But Salmi officials were among the first to suggest the idea of selling homes for free.

Venotti said the project could not be signed on time due to bureaucratic problems and the need to grant some properties a renewal first.

Maintenance work was needed in dilapidated precarious areas of the city, and the Corona pandemic delayed the project.

But Venotti insisted it was a good time to go ahead with the project, despite concerns of some residents about the spread of the disease.

The homes will go up for sale at auction starting at 1 euro (0.91 pounds sterling) per home and will be sold to the highest bidder, in the same way the Sicilian town of Sambuca did last year.

The town is located in the historical center of the city surrounded by the old city walls and dates back to the seventeenth century.

All homes have multiple floors and thick walls, while some have panoramic terraces and those on Belvedere Street, overlooking the green valley, are the most attractive.

In the main town square there is a collapsed church, its stone ruins still standing after the 1968 earthquake that killed 231 people in the area.

The houses are made of solid yellowish-pink sandstone mined from nearby caves.

In the Middle Ages, rural families slept on the upper floors of the buildings, while their animals lived on the lower floors.

The city is located at an altitude of 450 meters above sea level, which means that it is cooler than most areas of Sicily during the hot summer on the island.

Prospective buyers are not required to visit Salmi prior to submitting the bid, according to Mr. Venotti, but will have to submit a detailed redesign plan to demonstrate their commitment to the project.