This village in Italy is having difficulty selling its empty houses for one euro. This is the reason.This village in Italy is having difficulty selling its empty houses for one euro. This is the reason.

In recent years, Italy’s enticing one-euro-home sales have captured widespread attention, prompting numerous individuals to seize the opportunity to acquire abandoned properties in select depopulated towns across the country. While towns like Mussomeli in Sicily and Zungoli in Campania have successfully attracted buyers eager to fulfill their Italian aspirations, others, like the remote medieval village of Patrica, have encountered challenges in selling their vacant homes. Nestled on a rocky plateau amidst the picturesque landscape of the Sacco Valley in central Italy, Patrica boasts an enchanting setting. However, despite its allure, the village, home to scarcely 3,000 residents, grapples with the legacy of more than 40 properties abandoned since the early 1900s, left to decay over time. Despite its hardships, Patrica’s timeless charm continues to beckon those seeking a slice of Italian tranquility amidst its historic surroundings.

Abandoned homes

With aspirations to revitalize the dwindling village, Mayor Lucio Fiordaliso of Patrica has endeavored to replicate the success seen in other Italian towns where abandoned homes were offered for sale at one euro, or slightly over a dollar. Despite his efforts, however, success has remained elusive.

To kick start the rejuvenation process, Fiordaliso and his team meticulously identified and cataloged all abandoned houses within the village. Subsequently, they issued an official appeal to the original property owners, urging them to relinquish their deteriorating family estates. Despite these proactive measures, the response has been disheartening, with only two properties sold under the one-euro-home initiative.

In contrast to towns affected by natural disasters, where local authorities possess the authority to sell abandoned properties without owner’s consent, Patrica faces a more complex situation. Mayor Fiordaliso underscores the necessity of owner cooperation in the sale process, a critical step that renders the endeavor considerably challenging, if not nearly impossible.

Fiordaliso elaborates on the intricacies involved, revealing that while the town initially received positive feedback from ten property owners in response to their public outreach efforts, all prospects dissolved at the eleventh hour, leaving the village’s revitalization ambitions in limbo.

Public call

Fiordaliso suspects that those who retracted their initial interest may have encountered complications stemming from disagreements among relatives who co-owned portions of the same property. In Italian towns, especially in older areas, it’s common for abandoned buildings to be divided among multiple heirs, each inheriting specific sections such as a bathroom, balcony, or kitchen. However, Italian law mandates that all heirs must provide written consent before any sale can proceed.

Traditionally, inheritance in Italy included not just the family home but also parcels of land, wells, and orchards, further complicating matters. Over time, family dynamics may have shifted, leading to strained relationships or lost contact among relatives. Mayor Fiordaliso laments that efforts to sell potential one-euro homes often hit a standstill due to familial discord or an inability to reach a consensus among distant or estranged relatives.

Additionally, some properties were never officially divided among heirs in the past, leaving the current ownership status ambiguous. Tracking down descendants who may have migrated overseas, often to countries like the US, Canada, or Argentina, and potentially assumed different surnames, presents a formidable challenge for the town of Patrica. Fiordaliso describes this endeavor as akin to searching for a needle in a haystack.

Remarkably, Patrica managed to sell only two abandoned homes under the one-euro scheme, both owned outright by local residents. This spared the town the complexities of liaising with distant relatives or navigating convoluted ownership disputes, facilitating the sale process without complications.


Family ties

In instances where family disputes arise, relatives may opt to retain their share of the property, either due to entanglements in inheritance conflicts or as a means of retaliation. Moreover, original property owners who have been absent for extended periods may hesitate to reveal themselves to local authorities, fearing potential back taxes and waste disposal charges, which can amount to as much as 2,500 euros (approximately $2,730) per year, along with outstanding utility bills.

Another factor hindering the success of the one-euro scheme in Patrica could be attributed to the dismal condition of its abandoned homes. Despite the potential willingness of owners to sell, some properties are deemed unsalvageable due to neglect. Gianni Valleco, a local resident, recounts his attempt to list his parents’ abandoned home for sale, only to discover its deplorable state. The house had deteriorated significantly, with collapsed roofs and walls, rendering it uninhabitable. Valleco expressed disappointment, realizing that the property was beyond redemption and would require substantial investment for restoration.

Fortunately, not all deserted homes in Patrica suffer the same fate. Some properties have piqued the interest of potential buyers, including foreigners from the US and Europe. Mayor Fiordaliso remains hopeful, actively exploring new avenues to enhance the town’s allure and attract newcomers to breathe life into the community.

New scheme

Recently, the town hall of Patrica embarked on a project to rejuvenate the exterior facades of ancient palazzos, prompting a wave of renovation among local residents who had long neglected their family homes. Alessandra Pagliarosi, a resident, seized the opportunity to transform her husband’s inherited 1950s mansion into an exquisite bed and breakfast named “Patricia.” Benefiting from new tax incentives introduced by the town hall to stimulate the local economy, Pagliarosi undertook extensive renovations, including roof repairs and interior redesign. The tax breaks offer exemptions on waste disposal, advertising, and public space usage for ten years, along with tax credits for renovation expenses, particularly beneficial for small businesses like bed and breakfasts.

Foreigners looking to relocate to Patrica and establish small enterprises are also eligible for these tax benefits, resulting in the establishment of two new bed and breakfasts and one restaurant. Despite the influx of interest from foreign buyers, local realtor Ilario Grossi notes a preference for ready-to-occupy homes among potential investors, citing the convenience and lower overall cost compared to purchasing older properties in need of extensive renovation.

Although challenges persist, Mayor Fiordaliso remains determined to sell some of the town’s neglected homes, even amidst familial disputes, highlighting the ongoing efforts to breathe new life into Patrica’s historic dwellings.


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