Sicilian town auctions off abandoned homes for €1

Helen Coffey
·2-min read
Salemi in Sicily (Wikimedia/Giacomocostaphoto)
Salemi in Sicily (Wikimedia/Giacomocostaphoto)

Another Italian town is attempting to attract new blood by auctioning off abandoned homes for a mere €1.

The town of Salemi in Sicily was one of the first to propose selling off houses extremely cheaply on the condition that new owners commit to renovating the properties back in 2008, but red-tape delayed the project considerably.

It was decided that improvements to the town should be completed before the properties were auctioned.

These included upgrading infrastructure and services, from roads and electric grids to sewage pipes.

“It was a long process,” the town's mayor, Domenico Venuti, told CNN Travel. “Not only did we carry out thorough maintenance works to secure the risky crumbly areas, we also had to recover many properties to residential use.

”We've been ready for a while but wanted to wait and see how the Covid-19 emergency evolved.“

He added: “Now the town is ready for the next step.”

Around a dozen homes will be up for sale over the next month, with bidding starting at €1 per property.

Those looking to buy needn’t visit in person; they can look through photos and locations of properties, before filling in an application form online.

Potential new residents must submit a plan detailing how they would renovate the property, with those whose plans could help stimulate the local economy, such as converting a building into a B&B or other business, given extra points and tax credits.

Applicants can buy more than one house, but must pay out a €3,000 deposit for each, which will be refunded once the renovations are completed to the town’s satisfaction.

If this first round of sales is successful, there are a further 100 properties that could potentially be auctioned off, according to Venuti.

The town has struggled to prop up its dwindling population since 1968, when a severe earthquake decimated the surrounding area and prompted 4,000 residents to leave Salemi.

Details of the auction can be found at

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