NEWS » Italy is giving away castles, inns and farmhouses!

Italy is giving away castles, inns and farmhouses!

If you’ve always dreamt of living in an Italian castle, this is your chance! Italy is giving away on a 9-year free lease 103 castles, towers, inns and farmhouses.

However, all that glitters is not gold! To get hold of the luxury properties it’s necessary to turn them into tourism facilities, such as hotels, restaurants or care centres, leisure centres, training centres, artisan shops, Spas or medical care centres, to meet the needs of tourists, pilgrims and cyclists.

This apparently crazy initiative is part of the project “Valore Paese - Cammini e Percorsi” (the value of the Italian country - pathways and routes) of the government-run State Property Agency, together with the Ministry of cultural heritage and environmental conservation and the Ministry for infrastructure and transport. The idea is to requalify, for a touristic destination, abandoned and deteriorating places, in order to promote a slow and experiential tourism. Slow tourism, including walking trails and cycle paths, is very much in vogue and can be combined with properties of various kinds, from castles to old railway stations.

With popular locations such as Rome, Venice, Florence and the Cinque Terre coastline of Liguria in danger of being overwhelmed by increasing numbers of tourists, Italy is keen to try to attract visitors to lesser-known parts of the country.

The project involves more than 100 public properties on religious and historical itineraries and cycling/walking paths from north to south of Italy. Many of these routes are of interesting historical value, like Via Francigena, an ancient route that pilgrims took to get from Europe to Puglia and the Holy Land via Rome. Other locations offer breath-taking sceneries for cyclists, like the Ciclovia VenTo, which goes from Venice to Turin on the banks of the Po. 

To get hold of one of these properties, an online proposal, describing how the location is going to be transformed into a new international hotspot, can be submitted until June 26. Special preference is given to people under 40, in order to foster young entrepreneurs. Successful applications will be given the property rights to the building for 9 years, with the option of extending for another nine years after that. Work is expected to start next summer.

The project plans to include 200 more buildings within the next two years, in an effort to attract more visitors to these gorgeous villages located just off the beaten path. Every year 100 properties will be granted under the same conditions.

In an effort to guarantee the success of the initiative, the Ministry of cultural heritage and environmental conservation is going to allocate 3 million Euros to provide assistance to the start-ups participating to the project and accompany them in their first two years of activity.

Giulia Lombardo

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