As thousands of Brits struggle to find a way to get on to the property ladder it might just be that Italy has the answer.
The Italian government is giving away more than 100 castles, ancient towers and monasteries – for free.
But – and isn’t there always a ‘but’ – there is a catch: you’ll have to be prepared to renovate the buildings and turn them into tourist attractions or hotels to drive up visitor numbers and trade.
Sites include Castello di Blera in Lazio, an 11th century castle, and Castello di Montefiore, a 13th century castle in the Marche region of eastern Italy.
The idea, part of the country’s Strategic Tourist Plan, insists that prospective property owners develop cast-iron proposals for how they would transform the building to secure its future.
That could mean developing the site as a hotel, or a spa, restaurants, or maybe an all-in-one leisure complex – something that basically retains the architectural heritage of the structure while boosting tourism.
The 103 buildings are in areas well away from the traditional tourist hotspots of Italy. Some 44 of them are found along historic rural walking routes, while the remaining 59 sit on cycle paths. For example, some sit along the ancient Appian Way, that runs from Rome to Brindisi in the south.
“The project will promote and support the development of the slow tourism sector,” Roberto Reggi from the State Property Agency told The Local. “The goal is for private and public buildings which are no longer used to be transformed into facilities for pilgrims, hikers, tourists, and cyclists.”
The government is looking to young entrepreneurs with clear ideas to make this happen. Successful applicants will get a nine-year lease on the property with an option for another nine years.
Those who really impress with their plans could be offered 50-year leases to recoup their investment. Details of the scheme can be found through Italy’s State Property Agency.
Last week, it was revealed that a tiny Italian town was looking to attract new blood by offering people £1,700 to move there.