We've seen a variety of creative approaches used by villages and small towns in Italy (plus Switzerland and Germany) to try and stem decline and abandonment. From 'recruiting' immigrants through cash incentives for families local authorities have sought to stem depopulation. In the end, this is about money and access - how cheaply (even negative rents) can we make living in a place that's far removed from the places where the jobs, social activities and culture live. Here, from Sardinia, is a pretty blunt approach:
On the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, the old village of Ollolai is at risk of turning into a ghost town.That's one Euro for a house (although you'll need to spend some money refurbishing that house) which is great if you can run your life and business from what can only be described as the 'back of beyond' - Ollolai is bang in the centre of Sardinia, off the main road, with the nearest airport at least an hour away. And this is the problem with these offers, for all that we look at a delightful stone cottage in an ancient hill top village, we shortly after ask questions about schools, hospitals, airports, ferries, theatres, trains, supermarkets and shopping malls. With the result that, despite the financial offer and its appeal, we opt for a more expensive place that means we can reach some or all of that list with some ease.
Over the past half-century, the town's population has declined from 2,250 people to just 1,300. And now, there are hundreds of abandoned homes.
In an effort to lure new residents, Ollolai's government is selling 200 of these homes for $1.25 each.