The famed Ellis Island in New York will forever be synonymous with the immigrant experience in America by virtue of being the country’s most famous port of entry. During the early parts of the 20th century, immigrants from Italy started a massive wave of migration to the United States, coming to Ellis Island in droves and irrevocably changing the landscape of both nations.
Between 1892 and 1924, nearly 1,700 residents of the small Sicilian village of Gangi packed up their belongings and boarded ocean liners headed towards America, abandoning their homes in the process. Many of those homes are still empty to this day, and have been so for generations. A second wave of immigration to Argentina in the 1930s and 40s made matters even worse. Today, the town of roughly 16,000 in the 1950s has shrunk down to a mere 7,000. The empty properties have led to a drastic decline in the local economy, threatening the existence of the town itself.
So what has the local government decided to do to try to boost the population?
They're literally giving away the empty houses!
You read that right: Free homes in the Italian countryside are totally up for grabs.
In an official press release titled "FREE HOUSES IN GANGI," the Comune di Gangi stated that:
... In the town of Gangi there are old houses that will be granted free of charge to those who request them. The request may be submitted both by companies who want to transform the houses into hotels and from individuals for their own private use.
This sounds too good to be true...
Sadly, a deal this good had to come with some strings attached. If/when you get assigned a free house, you are responsible for the legal expenses required to transfer ownership, as well as all renovation costs. Additionally, you must present a renovation project within one year of purchase and complete said renovation within a further three years.
There are roughly 300 homes up for grabs, most of them traditional three-story farmhouses. Many boast panoramic views of nearby Mt. Etna.
Sadly, 100 of those houses have already been given out, mostly to other Sicilians looking for a vacation home.
The remaining 200 houses have an understandably sizable waiting list.
Although money certainly helps improve your spot on the list, the mayor says that the buyer’s intention for the property will be a deciding factor since the town would prefer projects that offer long-term benefits for the whole community.
Via: MessyNessy Chic