The Italian village of Ollolai in Sardinia has a problem. It has about 200 historic stone cottages in need of owners, but the village population has been shrinking for decades. The solution? Sell every one of the houses for just €1 (about $1.25 USD).
That’s right, you can own a piece of Italian history for the same cost of running your laundry. But there’s a catch: true to the meaning of “historic”, these homes have undergone a considerable amount of wear and tear, and will demand blood, sweat, and tears before meeting the demands of a modern lifestyle.
Adding to the challenge is the requirement that new owners must refurbish their home within 3 years, which will cost about $25,000 USD.
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Ollolai is one of several villages trying out this technique in an effort to repopulate. Over the last five decades, Ollolai’s population has dropped from 2,250 inhabitants to 1,300. With few babies being born each year, Mayor Efisio Arbau hopes that the strategy will draw new faces that will help revive Ollolai.
“My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion. Pride in our past is our strength. We’ve always been tough people and won’t allow our town to die,” Arbau told CNN.
So far, the strategy seems to be working. Arbau says the town has already sold three homes and that many more offers are coming in from around the world.
Despite the grim possibility that his home turns into a ghost town, Arbau is not intimidated by the challenge. “Our pagan ancestors never succumbed to the ancient Roman conquerors, who dubbed us ‘barbarians.’ These hills are Italy’s ‘Highlands’ and we are sons of ‘Bravehearts.'” Who wouldn’t want that as a neighbor?