Another picturesque plot of Italian countryside is up for sale for next to nothing.
Laurenzana is the latest town to put houses on sale to developers for the nominal fee of €1. About $1.66.
Just across from the charming castle town neighbouring Mussomeli and Zungoli launched similar schemes. There are countless schemes €1 villas to drive rural regeneration. At points it can appear as if central Italy is the bargain basement of Europe, parcelled off to gullible northern Europeans with dreams of a holiday home in the sun.
However, Laurenzana's offer stands out from the crowd of scenic ruins. They require no down payments, and no conditions on who can buy one of the 10 abandoned houses and for what purpose.
But what should you know before buying a budget-price slice of la Dolce Vita?
It's not all limoncello and lingering Tuscan evenings.
Italy's crumbling, centuries old houses are a byproduct of a rural exodus. You might wonder why anyone would want to leave the idyll, until you look at the employment opportunities outside artisanal cheese and herding sheep.
Italy has one of the highest youth-unemployment rates in Europe. In the Basilicata region, it approaches 38 per cent.
Younger Italians are leaving in droves to urban centres or elsewhere in the Euro bloc.
Many houses unable to be filled, are falling into disrepair. But wily local authorities have begun to capitalise on the rustic charm. After all, romantic history and ruins have historically been the country's biggest drawcard for tourists.
But visiting Italian ruins and renovating them are two different prospects.
Here's a guide to Italy's €1 villas to save you from folly.
€1 zone: Where are Italy's €1 houses?
Since Sambuca, southern Italy began flogging houses for less than the cost of its famous liqueur many other regions have launched similar schemes.
While the largest number of €1 houses are in villages in Sicily and the depressed south, the idea has been adopted by burghers all the way up to the Alps.
From Borgomezzavalle on the Swiss border, down the spine of the Apennine mountains to Zungoli, houses are going for a nominal fee.
At least five towns in Sicily have begun giving away houses to combat rural depopulation: Sambuca, Bivona, Cammarata, Gangi and Mussomeli. It would appear the famously tight knit communities of rural Sicily are finally willing to let outsiders buy in to la 'Cosa Nostra'.
On neighbouring Sardinia another two towns are also handing houses for pocket change.
What's the catch?
While down payment on the villas is miniscule, the upkeep of the ruins come with many hidden costs and 'conditions'. Some towns such as Castropignano require deposits of up to €2000, which are held on the condition that the new owners complete required renovations on the houses. As you can imagine, the cost of restoring the ruins are substantially more than €1.
Other towns will only sell a house on condition that the buyer relocates to the village. It is a scheme to combat depopulation, after all.
Last year Santo Stefano di Sessanio put aside grants to encourage people to buy into their village, paying transplants up to $70,000 to move there. There are also bonuses for those bringing business or relocating enterprises to the region.
Laurenzana, the latest village to join the €1, is unique in this respect.
Mayor Michele Ungaro says he will give houses to foreigners on good faith:
"we are not asking for any deposit guarantee to ensure the works are speedily carried out. It sounds as a sort of threat," he told CNN.
"We rely on the good faith and commitment of buyers, but we will be constantly monitoring the work-in-progress and status of the renovation."
The township simply wants to see a proposal of what sort of house they are after, and their intentions are, be that start a BNB or retire to a spot in the sun.
"We want this adventure to be a pleasure, not a burden," said Ungaro.
Not all Italians are sold on the €1 scheme
While dozens of villages have begun giving away houses, not all Italians are happy with the scheme. The scheme relies upon there being no current owner of the ruins.
However, some Italians say they are having houses sold from underneath them.
Last month Italian expat Josie Faccini accused her home town of preparing for a "property grab".
While living in Canada, the town of Castropignano began assessing her claim to her grandfather's house. Reading in a CNN article that the mayor was reaching out to potential owners to see if houses were empty or abandoned, she was concerned that nobody had got in touch.
Faccini said that visiting to challenge the local government was all but impossible, with covid-19 restrictions.
"I would like to see the town flourish and help be a part of this, but please do not steal our home from us," she told CNN.
Similarly large expatriate communities in Argentina, France and North America have stories about seeing old family properties going up for sale. However, many potential owners are not getting in touch, over years of unpaid taxes.
The rise of the Albergo Diffuso
While towns empty, and villas go unclaimed, there is one business which has fared well until now.
The Albergo Diffuso or 'dispersed hotel' concept has given many townships a second life. The rise of practically free property saw some resorts buy whole towns to run hotels with rooms dispersed around picturesque winding streets.
In some cases the unique accommodation options in castle walls and old mill houses were an antidote to cookie-cutter resorts built around much of Italy in the past 60 years. They also allow visitors to stay within regions of Italy where strict heritage and conservation laws would never allow new developments.
The Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita has won countless awards for its reuse of historic buildings in Matera – whose ancient grottoes had been home to people for thousands of years – until rural depopulation took hold.
A study by the Università Cattolica, Milan heralded the "Albergo Diffuso" as the saviour of rural Italy and "a formula for sustainable economic development".
Alberghi Diffusi were filling the towns again with life, and tourists. In turn this was keeping regional crafts and specialities in trade.
However, on the swing side, converting an entire town to one industry – particularly one as fickle as tourism – has had its downsides.
While Italy grapples with the Coronavirus these villages are again empty.
It is still almost impossible to give away Italy's most charming rustic houses. Even for €1.