Maenza has a population around 3,000. Image – CNN.
  • For a single euro - or $1.60 - you can purchase a home 70km from Rome
  • Taking up permanent residency isn't required as part of the deal
  • The only catch is to promise to renovate; buyers don't even have to live there

Everybody loves a bargain.

Recently on The Property Tribune we told the story of the Croatian town of Legrad offering houses for just 1 Kuna (21 Australian cents) in a move to attract younger people to the rural region.

If you can afford to pay 7.6 times that amount there is now a European option: houses for just €1 ($1.60) in the Italian town of Maenza.

Unlike the Legrad offer, this doesn’t require the purchaser to move to some far-flung corner of the country. Maenza is only 70 kilometres southeast of Rome.

The historic village is set high up on the Lepini hills but was once home to shepherds and fiery tribes, back in the day. These days though, dozens of abandoned stone dwellings are up for grabs under an audacious plan launched by the local mayor, Claudio Sperduti.

“We’re taking it one step at a time. As original families get in touch and hand over to us their old houses, we place these on the market through specific public notices on our website to make it all very transparent,” Mr Sperduti told CNN.

Buyers interested in purchasing the properties are invited to make specific property requests with local officials, who will then attempt to match requirements.

The town is hopeful the scheme can breathe life into around 100 neglected properties, some of which pose a threat due to their dilapidated status.

maenza run down
Image – CNN.

In due course, more neglected properties are expected to come on the market.

Renovation promise

The only catch for buyers is to renovate the property within three years, placing a bond of €5,000 (A$8,020), which will be returned upon completed works.

Additionally, a detailed restyle plan must be submitted; but it doesn’t have to be a home, it could be converted into a B&B, shop or restaurant.

Buyers don’t even have to live there, although this is being encouraged for younger families.

“Families and youths often leave town to move to larger homes in nearby cities and villas in the countryside, but there’s always some newcomer who takes their place so it’s balanced out,” said Mr Sperduti.

“This is not a dying city, people still inhabit the old district but it needs a revamp, fresh oxygen.”

Mayor Claudio Sperduti

Most of the old dwellings are small at about 50-70 square metres, making it a relatively cheap proposition. Additionally, tax deductions are available for environmentally friendly restyles and earthquake-proofing updates.

According to Mr Sperduti, costs begin at about €100 ($160) per square metre, meaning prices to breathe life into a dilapidated home begin at about €5,000 ($8,020).

maenza village
Image – CNN.

Some of the homes on sale date back to the 1700s and overlook a tiny piazza with views of the Pontine Islands. One owner sold his property for €3,000 ($4,811) to a buyer who was simply visiting the town.

“The house isn’t great, but it’s not crashing to the ground either,” he said.

Made in Italy, starring Liam Neeson and his real-life son Micheal Richardson.

Could be a movie?

This is all very reminiscent of last year’s romantic comedy (starring my namesake Liam Neeson) ‘Made in Italy‘, where an out of sorts artist (Neeson) and his son (played by real-life son Micheal Richardson) travel to Italy to renovate an old property.

Why not live the dream?

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