The charming Italian town that offers free houses

A town in the Italian island of Sicily is giving away free homes in a bid to attract new residents.

The town of Cammarata – located about 60km southeast of Palermo – is offering homes around the town for naught in a new scheme to fight depopulation and urban decay.

“I can’t stand to see this gorgeous, old historical center empty and turn into a ruin. It hurts me,” mayor Vincenzo Giambrone told CNN Travel.

According to Giambrone, twelve stone buildings are available now, with “more to come shortly”.

The scheme comes with a few conditions – interested parties must commit to renovating their new house within three years and pay the town a deposit of €5,000 (about AU$8,070), which will be returned once the building works are done. They will also be required to present a refurbishment proposal for the property.

While all foreigners and Italians will be considered, the town will prioritise young couples with children as buyers and grant a €1,000 bonus for couples who settle and go on to have a baby there.

New owners are allowed to transform the multi-story buildings into a private house, hotel, guest accommodation, shop or restaurant.

Town councillors said the locals were “deterred” from living in Cammarata due to the town’s mountainous location and “tiny, winding roads, which were nigh on impossible to get a car around”, Insider reported.

Giambrone said he hoped the move will help the town go back to “being a lively, vibrant place”.

This article originally appeared on Over60.