From selling off swathes of houses for $1 to paying people to become new residents, small Italian towns have tried myriad creative methods to combat depopulation. Presicce-Acquarica, a town of around 10,500 inhabitants in the southern region of Puglia, is the latest to launch a campaign to boost population numbers.
The initiative, named “Welcome to Presicce-Acquarica,” promises a grant of €30,000 ($30,000) for those who buy a house and register their residency in the town. So what’s the catch?
Move to one of Italy’s most beautiful villages
Presicce-Acquarica – technically the two towns of Presicce and Acquarica del Capo merged into one municipality – lies deep in the heel of the boot of Italy in an area known as Salento. The main square is graced by a white church adorned with swirling, intricate sculptural decoration and the streets are paved in luminous white marble typical of towns in the area.
It has been designated as one of Italy’s “most beautiful villages” for its extravagant baroque architecture and grand palazzi of historic nobility. Step out of the historic center and you find yourself in miles of olive groves delineated by crooked dry stone walls.
It may seem baffling why so few people want to live there. But rural Italy has thousands of these stunning small towns that, due to a lack of working opportunities particularly for young people, see their populations irrevocably dwindle.
How to get paid to relocate to an Italian town
Presicce-Acquarica is fighting its depopulation by luring new residents with generous cash sums. The exact details of the scheme are still to be released, but here’s what we know so far.
The campaign is aimed at individuals or families intending to move their official residency to the Salento town. The scheme requires them to invest in a house, the cost of which will be subsidized by a grant provided by the Municipality of Presicce-Acquarica.
The financial aid will be available to cover 50% of the costs of purchasing a house, including renovations, up to a maximum of €30,000 ($30,000). Around 30% of the town’s housing is eligible for the scheme.
To combat its aging population – the town saw 60 births last year compared to 150 deaths – Presicce-Acquarica is also presenting €1,000 ($1,000) for every newborn.
Recently, the island of Sardinia launched a similar campaign to entice new residents with a €15,000 ($14,900) grant.