The Triumphs and Challenges of the One Euro Homes Initiatives in Italy

by | Apr 10, 2024 | Economics, Tourism, Travel | 0 comments

Patrica, Italy at Night

The one-euro-home initiative in Italy has garnered significant interest in recent years, enticing many to purchase abandoned properties in several of the nation’s dwindling towns.

However, while towns such as Mussomeli in Sicily and Zungoli in Campania have successfully transferred numerous neglected homes to those dreaming of an Italian lifestyle, others have found it challenging to attract buyers for their vacant houses.

Patrica stands out among these, a secluded mediaeval hamlet with a population of just about 3,000, situated to the south of Rome. Here, over 40 properties abandoned since the early 20th century have been neglected.

Sitting atop a rocky outcrop with views over the Sacco Valley in central Italy, Patrica offers picturesque scenery, though historically, its residents faced harsh living conditions.

Mayor Fiordaliso’s Efforts to Sell Abandoned Homes for One Euro Encounter Challenges

Driven by the hope for a better life elsewhere, many have deserted their homes, leaving them uninhabited for years.

In a bid to revive the fading village, Mayor Lucio Fiordaliso has endeavoured to replicate the achievements of other Italian communities that have offered their vacant homes for the nominal price of one euro, or just slightly more than a dollar. However, his efforts have yet to yield significant results.

“We initially identified all the abandoned properties and reached out to the original owners, asking them to relinquish their rundown familial homes. Unfortunately, we’ve only managed to sell two homes for one euro,” Fiordaliso shared with CNN.

While authorities in towns affected by depopulation due to earthquakes and other disasters have the authority to sell abandoned properties without the owners’ consent, Patrica and similar towns don’t share this privilege.

“We need the owners or their heirs to be willing to give up their old homes,” Fiordaliso stated.

“Only with their agreement can we proceed to sell these properties, which significantly complicates the process, rendering it nearly impossible.”

Fiordaliso noted that the town received “positive feedback” from 10 property owners following a “public appeal to participate in our one-euro-home scheme,” but they all pulled out at the last moment. The remainder did not respond.

Family Dynamics and Property Challenges

In situations involving family conflicts, relatives may opt against selling their share due to legal complexities linked to inheritance disputes or even as a means of retaliation.

For original owners who have resided elsewhere for an extended period, there’s often hesitation in revealing their presence to local authorities. This reluctance stems from the potential repercussions, such as facing back taxes on their property, waste disposal fees amounting to 2,500 euros (approximately $2,730) annually, and outstanding utility bills.

Furthermore, the failure of the one euro scheme to take off in Patrica may also be attributed to the dire condition of its abandoned properties. Some homes are too dilapidated to attract buyers, even if owners were inclined to sell.

Patrica local Gianni Valleco and his siblings attempted to sell their parents’ abandoned home, hoping to rid themselves of what seemed like useless rubble. However, their optimism quickly waned upon realising the extent of the property’s deterioration. The house had essentially been reduced to ruins, with collapsed walls and a roof, overtaken by nature. Despite their initial curiosity, they recognized the impracticality of selling such a property.

Valleco explains, “We thought, ‘Why not give it a go’? Even if it’s just for one euro, we’d be rid of a heap of useless stones. We were curious to see if someone might be interested in buying it.” However, the reality was starkly different. The home had deteriorated beyond repair, with neighbouring residents even using it as a dumping ground for their old belongings.

Although some deserted homes in Patrica are in better condition and have attracted interest from potential buyers, many remain unsuitable for sale due to their state of disrepair. Despite these challenges, the mayor, Fiordaliso, is actively exploring new strategies to enhance the town’s appeal and attract newcomers.

Italian Inheritance Laws Complicate Sale of Abandoned Homes

Patrica, Italy
Fiordaliso suggests that the hesitation seen among some owners could stem from disagreements with other family members who share ownership of the property.

In these historical Italian villages, it’s common for abandoned structures to be divided among numerous heirs, each owning just a portion of the property – such as a bathroom, balcony, or kitchen. According to Italian law, every heir must provide their written consent before any part of the property can be sold.

Traditionally, it was normal for children to inherit segments of their family’s estate, including small plots of land, wells, and orchards.

However, maintaining harmonious relationships or even staying in touch with relatives over the years is not guaranteed.
“The effort to sell potential one euro homes hit a standstill because many co-owners were either in personal disputes, couldn’t reach a consensus on the sale, barely communicated or were acquainted with each other, or lived far apart, including overseas,” the mayor explained.

There have also been cases where properties weren’t formally divided among heirs previously, leading to confusion over the current rightful owner.

Fiordaliso points out the difficulty in locating descendants of original owners who emigrated long ago, especially to places like the USA, Canada, and Argentina. These descendants might have different surnames or have transferred their inherited Italian properties to non-Italians without informing the local authorities in Patrica, complicating the search further.

“It’s akin to searching for a needle in a haystack,” he remarks.

The two abandoned properties that were successfully sold under the one-euro initiative belonged entirely to local residents. This meant there was no need to coordinate with distant relatives or navigate through complex family ties, allowing for a straightforward sale without hurdles.

Historic Restoration Inspires Local Revival: Patrica’s Ancestral Homes Transformed

The municipal government recently invested in refurbishing the facades of several historical buildings, inspiring many locals to fully renovate their ancestral homes for contemporary use after years of disuse.

Local inhabitant Alessandra Pagliarosi went a step further by transforming a 1950s villa inherited by her husband into a chic bed and breakfast named Patricia.

“The roof was almost nonexistent, and the interior needed a complete overhaul. The mayor’s initiative was the perfect reason for us to completely refurbish the property, which had otherwise been wasted,” Pagliarosi mentions, highlighting the advantage of new tax incentives offered by the municipality to stimulate economic recovery.

Individuals initiating a new business venture, such as a B&B or a craft shop within the old town, are awarded a decade-long exemption from taxes related to garbage disposal, advertising, and the utilisation of public spaces, in addition to tax deductions for renovation expenses.

“For a modest B&B, this translates to an annual saving of about 1,200 euros (approximately $1,310), which is quite substantial,” Pagliarosi points out.

These tax benefits are also available to foreigners who move to Patrica with the intention of starting a business.
As a direct result, two new B&Bs and a restaurant have recently been established.

Ilario Grossi, a real estate agent with Immobil Lepini in the adjacent town of Ceccano, notes the interest from Americans with family ties to the area coming to view properties in Patrica.

However, they find the ready-to-move-in homes, with prices starting from 20,000 euros ($21,832) for a two-bedroom house, more attractive.

“While there’s interest, the realisation of the poor condition of many old houses turns them towards ready-to-live options that are either newly refurbished or need minimal repairs,” Grossi explains.

“It’s simply more feasible to invest in these modern properties than to take on an extensive project, where the eventual expense far exceeds initial estimates.”

Despite these obstacles, Fiordaliso remains determined to facilitate the sale of the village’s long-abandoned houses, even if it requires mediating between feuding family members.

Sources:

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https://edition.cnn.com/travel/patrica-italy-town-one-euro-homes-struggle/index.html

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