Now You Can Buy a Historic Home in Italy For Just €1

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By Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
Sambuca, on the Italian island of Sicily, hopes to attract investment in its beautiful but crumbling architecture with the property bargain of the century.

If an Italian hillside dwelling within spitting distance of Mediterranean beaches sounds like your dream vacation home, then this Sicilian town has a deal for you. Sambuca is selling dozens of homes in its Saracen District for just €1 each. According to CNN.com, the hilltop town is following in the footsteps of other Italian towns by selling property on the cheap to encourage investment.

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A view of Sambuca, Sicily, from afar.

A view of Sambuca, Sicily, from afar.

Like many rural communities, the town has lost much of its population to metropolitan areas, and its historic homes are rapidly falling into disrepair. The deputy mayor of Sambuca, Guiseppe Cacioppo, told CNN that while others have made similar offers, theirs is the real deal.

"As opposed to other towns that have merely done this for propaganda, this city hall owns all €1 houses on sale," he said. "We're not intermediaries who liaise between old and new owners. You want that house, you'll get it (in) no time."

There is a catch, however—one that costs about $17,200. New buyers must commit to investing at least €15,000 into their 430- to 1,600-square-foot dwelling, and supply a refundable €5,000 security deposit. 

Founded by the Ancient Greeks, Sambuca was conquered by the Saracens, and today the Arab influence is still strong. The houses on offer are largely two-story Moorish dwellings, featuring inner courtyards, palm gardens, terraces, and Sicilian tiled roofs. They are situated in a maze-like part of the city where narrow alleys are sometimes only 3 feet wide. The walls are built from a reddish-pink stone, which produces a characteristic rosy Southern Italian glow as the sun sets.

As long as (distant) views of Mount Etna, the most active volcano in Europe, and the Cosa Nostra doesn’t put you off, Sambuca would love to welcome you as a new homeowner. Cobwebs, broken furniture and piles of old stones are also part of the package, but it's a small price to pay for a unique Italian adventure. 

Photography: Ennio Gurrera and Samueles