It’s an alluring trend that’s captivated the world: the promise of a place of your own, nestled deep in the Italian countryside — for the astonishingly cheap price of just one euro, or a little over a dollar.
Now the first city has joined the club.
Taranto, a port on the coast of Puglia in the heel of Italy, has seen its population dwindle in recent years, and city officials want to reverse its fortunes.
Taranto’s heritage councilor, Francesca Viggiano, tells CNN Travel that the city will start offering up council-owned buildings in the city’s Old Town for the tempting price of just one euro.
As with previous offers, buyers must commit to renovating the properties, a process likely to cost thousands more dollars.
The hope is to save dilapidated buildings and build up the population. There are currently 15 buildings ready to be snapped up — with the listings due to go live in a couple of weeks. There’s the potential for more buildings to be put on the market.
The appeal of Taranto
The southern Italian region of Puglia is celebrated for its culinary delights, stone architecture and dramatic coastal towns, but the area is much poorer than tourist magnet Tuscany.
Taranto is known for its large steelworks, which has come under scrutiny due to polluting emissions and a controversial fight over the plant’s future — if it were to close, it would likely have a significant impact on the economy of the city.
Viggiano says the one euro home campaign is just one aspect of the city’s tourism-led revivial.
“We have a big port and the cruises are coming back to our city, so it’s a big transition plan that takes in everything — investment, tourism. It’s kind of a new life for the city.”
Plus, she says, the balmy “always spring” weather is very appealing.
Taranto’s most striking building is the Castello Aragonese, an imposing fortification built in the 15th century.
Also worth checking out is the Temple of Poseidon, dating from the 6th century BCE, which provides an intriguing glimpse into Taranto’s former life as an ancient Greek colony.
Viggiano says Taranto wasn’t directly inspired by the other €1 villages — but the campaign definitely seems to be in the same vein.
Restoration, for example, must take into account the architectural style and aesthetic of existing buildings.
“In Italy we have very strict rules about architecture and historical places from the central government,” says Viggiano.
In November 2019, CNN Travel caught up with a couple of Italy’s “€1 citizens,” including Morgane Guihot, who bought a crumbling property in Mussomeli.
Guihot says she and her husband were “lured by the attractive bargain prices” and fell under the spell of the Sicilian village’s charm.
So far, there’s been widespread interest in the Taranto properties. Viggiano says there have been inquiries from eager would-be buyers in South America, North America and all over Europe.
And is she surprised by the response?
“We would say yes and no,” says Viggiano. “We knew that the idea was a revolutionary idea and, of course, we would have multiple interest. We couldn’t imagine all over the world.”