Hugged by the green mountains of Sardinia, the Italian island of Ollolai is at high risk of becoming a ghost town. In half a century, the town’s population has shrunk from 2,250 to 1,300. So the region in which Ollolai is located (and was once-upon-a-time the capital of), Barbagia, has decided to contact the owners that have abandoned these blighted stone houses to hand over the properties to the municipality.
The municipality is offering the properties for €1 ($1.2) each, with the condition of compulsory refurbishing of the houses, to breathe new life into the dying town that has lost its original population to bigger cities. Buyers will have the liberty of selling them after five years of purchasing, and of course, refurbishing them. Each of the stone houses on sale is required to start refurbishing within a year from purchase, with complete refurbishment to be completed in three years, at an estimated total cost of not less than €20,000 (around $25,000). The deadline for purchase requests (link in Italian) is February 7.
In spite of the rubble and blight, the municipality’s campaign seems to be going according to plan, with three houses already sold and more than 120 purchase requests delivered to the municipality from as far afield as the U.S., Poland, Russia, and Australia. Mayor Efisio Arbau hopes the refurbishment of the homes will help create new jobs and revive the local economy.
“We boast prehistoric origins. My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion, said Arbau. “Pride in our past is our strength. We’ve always been tough people and won’t allow our town to die.”
Around 610 kilometers to the northeast, stone houses in another ghost town in Italy also hugged by the Apennine hills in the Abruzzo region have also been offered for sale and for less outrageous prices – although the Telegraph says that the entire town could cost less than a small flat in London. In Rocca Calascio, a 540 square feet (164 square meter) stone property with a terrace and a patio may cost €20,000 ($25,000). However, the overall investment of refurbishing is estimated to be not less than €80,000 ($100,000).
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