If you happen to have any friends or relatives living in Paris, London, Milan etc., you could have heard of living solutions known as chambre de bonne, studios, monolocali, which is to say tiny apartments from 9 square metres where you basically sleep, have breakfast and work in the same room. These kinds of accommodation are very common in big cities and especially in their city centres.

The phenomenon that brought millions of citizens to live in small rooms, often stacked like bees in a hive, is known as depopulation: "a situation in which many people leave a place to live somewhere else".

The obvious consequence of these migrations is an increasing number of semi-desert areas and of regions with worryingly low birth rate. The reasons are difficult to enumerate in an exhaustive way, but it is certain that bigger cities attract citizens from all peripheral regions looking for better opportunities, higher salaries, more services and so on. In 1950, an European citizen out of two was living in the city, now we have three out of four, and it is estimated that we will reach a 80% after 2030. Unfortunately, according to a survey carried out by the Eurostat, people living in big cities (especially in Paris and Rome) are the unhappiest, because of stress, smog, traffic, high costs of living and social inequality.

However, there is also a phenomenon trying to buck the trend: amenity migration, or migration to pleasant and quiet areas. A small part of the population is leaving the city and moving to semi-desert villages, surrounded by nature and silence.

In order to promote a homogeneous repopulation of the territory, the European Union and Italy have developed several project to re-bring population in rural areas: one of these projects is a business support project called Philoxenia, which offered businessmen a combination of grants and subventions to create start-ups in rural areas of Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Slovenia and Malta.   

Another project involves selling houses for only 1 euro to save rural areas from becoming real ghost towns.

In Sardinia, there are two villages participating in the project. The first is Ollolai, in the Barbagia area, where the first house for one euro was sold last winter. The houses are sold through a Municipality open notice and are freely given to the Municipality by the old tenants, in order to allow new tenants, be them Italian, foreigners or companies, to go to Ollolai and revive the centre, be it Italian, foreigners or companies.

Similar projects have been financed in Abruzzo, Puglia and Sicily: the village of Salemi has been the first in Italy and has been followed by Gangi, in Sicily too, where a hundred houses were offered for sale.

Many tourists got interested in the project as the idea of buying a house in the Belpaese for only  1 euro is tempting to many (notwithstanding the restructuring costs, which by the way are between the 20thousand and 50 thousand maximum).

In order to benefit from this opportunity, it is sufficient to respect the following general rules, which can be applied in all regions of Italy:

  1. Provide a restructuring and valorisation project to begin no later than 365 days after the purchase;
  2. Participate in the public notice for sale;
  3. Pay the municipality the symbolic euro;
  4. Terminate a surety policy of 5thousand euro for three years with the Municipality involved; the policy will be reimbursed at its expiration;
  5. Undergo the expenses for notary fees, e.g. registration in the property registers and transfer;
  6. Undertake to start restructuring works within 2 months after obtaining the required permits.

Lastly, there can be additional rules required by specific Municipalities participating in the project; for these ones, the specific public notices should be consulted.


The only point that could give rise to doubts is the charge for the restructuring works, which could discourage the less fortunate investors; anyway, benefits for building renovation have been extended to 31 December 2016, thanks to Stability Law 2016, and this can alleviate such burden (that never goes beyond 50 thousand euro).


They consist in tax deductions for a percentage of:

  1. 65% of costs incurred, from 4 August 2013 to 31 December 2016, for anti-seismic measures on buildings for residential use or production activities in seismic areas highly at risk;
  2. 36% of income tax (Irpef)  for building and energy renovation and 50% for the costs incurred between 26 June 2012 and 31 December 2016;
  3. 50% on a maximum expenditure of 10 thousand euro, incurred between 6 June 2013 and 31 December 2016, for the purchase of furniture and household appliance with energy class not lower than A+.


Benefits for the purchase of a first home can be added if the following conditions are respected:

  1. Not owing other property suitable for residential use in the same Municipality, (not even in communion with the spouse);
  2. Not being entitled to usufruct, use or residence rights on any other property in the same Municipality;
  3. Not owing other property, on the national territory, for which such benefits have already been received;
  4. Residing in the Municipality of reference at the moment of purchase of property;
  5. The property must not be classified as "luxury" pursuant to cadastral labels (so A1, A8 and A9 categories are excluded).

To sum up, 2016 is the right year for investing a coffee for a corner of paradise in Sardinia, for new couples, tourists, businessmen or exhausted inhabitants of big cities.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.