Fancy buying an Italian palazzo for R16? Yes, they’re serious


Fancy buying an Italian palazzo for R16? Yes, they’re serious

The plan is to breathe life into Taranto by selling historical homes cheaply, a scheme pioneered by another small town

Nick Squires

The trail was blazed by hill-towns and villages but now, for the first time, an Italian city is offering its abandoned palazzi for the nominal sum of €1 (R16).

Taranto, in the deep south of Italy, hopes to breathe life into its picturesque but dilapidated old town, which sits on an island squeezed between a lagoon and the open sea. It has taken the lead from the dozens of small villages, from Sicily to the Alps, that are attempting to stem the effects of depopulation by selling off homes for the price of an espresso.

In the 19th century the island had a population of about 40,000 but after years of neglect that has dipped to less than 3,000. Prospective buyers will find no shortage of historical attractions in its tightly packed streets, from an Aragonese castle to a cathedral dating from the 10th century, while nearby are sandy beaches and a nature reserve that is home to flamingos...

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