Take a shot at home ownership: Sicilian town of Sambuca is selling homes for €1 — but there’s a catch


The Euro to sterling exchange rate may not be working in Britain’s favour at the moment thanks to ongoing Brexit uncertainty, but, even with a weaker pound, it’s not just priced-out Londoners who will consider a home in the Italian town of Sambuca the deal of the century.

The Sicilian town is selling dozens of properties for just €1, or 88p at the current exchange rate.

The hilltop village is offloading homes at pound-shop prices in a bid to revive the area that, like much of rural Italy, has suffered from depopulation.

Buyers can snap up one of the €1 properties directly from Sambuca city hall pretty much straight away, with the town’s deputy mayor, Giuseppe Cacioppo, promising potential buyers can collect the keys in “no time”. 

SO, WHAT’S THE CATCH?

Many of the abandoned homes for sale are in dire need of a full-scale renovation. While the scale of the work required is unclear, buyers must also commit to refurbishing the property within three years at a minimum cost of €15,000 (£13,200).

A €5,000 security deposit will be taken as a guarantee, although it will be returned once refurbishment is completed.

“We can’t afford to lose our lovely Arab heritage. Luckily, foreigners are lending a hand in this rescue crusade,” Cacioppo said to CNN.

The historic town’s revival is already underway. According to Cacioppo 10 houses have already been sold, with people from Switzerland, France and Spain also expressing interest.

The historic hilltop town features narrow streets of homes in a contrasting mix of architectural styles (Shutterstock / Simone Padovani)

SAMBUCA: THE LOWDOWN

“Sambuca is known as the ‘city of splendor’. This fertile patch of land is dubbed the ‘earthly paradise’,” said Cacioppo.

The hilltop town, nominated in the 2016 in Italy’s Most Beautiful Town contest, is a 75-minute drive south-west of the Sicilian capital of Palermo. Ryanair operates direct three-hour flights to Palermo from London Stansted.

Surrounded by woodlands, this sun-drenched patch of Italy is blessed with blue skies and warmth from April to October. The nearest coast with pristine beaches is just a 20-minute drive away.

“We’re located inside a nature reserve, packed with history. Gorgeous beaches, woods and mountains surround us. It’s silent and peaceful, an idyllic retreat for a detox stay.”

Founded by the Ancient Greeks, Sambuca was later conquered by a Saracen tribe expanding the Arabian empire. Until the 16th century, residences were set within the interior of the city fortress, while the main town centre later expanded beyond the inner walls.

Winding, narrow alleys of two-storey homes built from warm shades of sandstone often have terraces offering views of the surrounding countryside. Some have now been divided into apartments.

Locals operate guided tours of the historic town’s underground sunken city, which many of the private homes are said to have once had access to.

Visit comune.sambucadisicilia.ag.it/.

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