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27th Apr 2021

WFH – but away? You can now buy a house in Sicily for less than the price of a coffee

Trine Jensen-Burke

Imagine working from home – but from Sicily.

If you are going a little stir-crazy looking out your window at the same view that you have been looking at for 14 months now, you are no doubt not alone. Working from home, staying at home, staycationing at home – I think it is safe to say we are all dreaming of getting away somewhere at this stage.

So how does a little holiday home on an island off the coast of Italy sound? Like heaven? I know.

And right now, you can actually pick one up for less than the price of your daily takeaway latte.

In the Sicilian town of Castiglione di Sicilia, nestled under the slopes of Mount Etna, near the super-chic Taormina and the beaches of Sicily’s east coast, the city council is selling off roughly 900 abandoned homes right now. And the prices are affordable – to say the least.

Mayor Antonino Camarda has taken on an ambitious project to breathe new life into the village, where the population has been declining steadily over the past few decades.

“We have a huge architectural heritage to rescue, packed with history,” Camarda explains to CNN.

“Over time, too many people have left, leaving behind a bunch of old, picturesque houses, many even dating back to the Renaissance.”

The houses are, according to Mayor Camarda, being offered at different price points, relative to their condition and how much work will be required to fix them up. The scheme, which launched last month, is the largest of its kind in Sicily.

“We’ve carried out an in-depth study cataloguing each property based on maps and land registry data,” he explains.

“According to their conditions buildings will be sold at different prices, starting from €1.”

If there’s a lot of interest in the same property, an auction will be held.

Most of the houses are located in the oldest parts of the town. Around of them half are in ruins, and will be given away at a symbolic price of €1 ($1.20). The rest are in better condition, and will be sold off cheaply, starting from €4,000- €5,000.

How to buy one

If you are keen to buy yourself a little holiday house in Castiglione di Sicilia, you need to get in touch with the city council and give a detailed plan of what kind of house you are looking for, and how and when you plan to renovate it. This will ensure the city can try to best match you up with a house, and help liaise between parties. In fact, a special task force has been set up in the town to oversee the project.

“We are moving along two parallel paths: reaching out to old owners who are showing great interest in getting rid of their family homes, and new buyers,” says Camarda.

“We have already received many emails from investors and people across the world. There’s a wide choice here.”

The catch (with these prices, you knew there had to be one), is that potential buyers must commit to completing the renovations within three years.

Which, when you think about it, doesn’t seem like that much of a catch after all.

The mayor is also keen to point out that buyers can also take advantage of the Italian government’s “superbonus” scheme, which dishes out tax credits for renovations making houses more environmentally friendly.

Sounds like where you want to be working from home from for the foreseeable future? Us too!