Want to snag a free home in the mountains of Sicily? One Italian town is offering that deal, but before you pack your bags — there’s a catch.
The idea to give away abandoned homes for free came from Cammarata mayor Vincenzo Giambrone, who said it’s an effort to maintain the integrity of the town he loves.
"I can't stand to see this gorgeous, old historical center empty and turn into a ruin. It hurts me," Giambrone told CNN.
The mayor has campaigned owners who have left their family homes empty to offer them up for free, in hopes of revitalizing the historic part of the village.
There are currently about a dozen stone homes up for grabs, with more to come soon, according to the mayor.
But “free” comes with some conditions. New residents must commit to renovating the property within three years and put down a $4,300 deposit, which will be returned to them when the work is done.
“New buyers can finally step in to secure these crumbly walls and revive the historical area," Giambrone said.
Giambrone lamented the long, slow decline of what he called “a lively, vibrant place.” And hopes this effort will keep the historic town alive for generations to come.
His efforts — and sweet incentive — is not unheard of. In recent years, other towns throughout Italy have also made enticing offers in an effort to attract people to places with declining populations.
Italy has historically had a complicated relationship with immigration, which has been highlighted in recent years by the country’s attitude and political climate toward migrants from nearby countries.
Earlier this year, the Guardian reported that Italy had rejected a record number of asylum seekers.
But Giambrone says Cammarata has a long history of welcoming outsiders and this latest offer “embodies our culture of welcoming with open arms all foreigners and outsiders.”
“Visitors and guests come first, even before our own family,” he told CNN. “Newcomers trigger change, innovation, new ideas. They revamp the local economy and can kick start a revolution.”
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