…we’re not kidding.
Italy is giving away 103 buildings across the country, many of which are historic villas and castles, for those looking to develop them something other than what they have become: crumbling landmarks.
Recipients of the properties must agree to transform the buildings and plots of land into something that drives tourism, thereby positively affecting the nation’s economic growth. Suggestions for the sites’ transformations include hotels, restaurants, shops, spas or luxury villas. The country is focused on young entrepreneurs for this experimental endeavor, targeting the under-40 set, start-ups and co-ops.
The Local Italy reports that the country is hoping this initiative, dubbed the Strategic Tourist Plan, will promote the development of tourism throughout the country, and not just in its tourist-heavy areas like Lake Como, Venice, Tuscany, Milan and the Amalfi Coast. The plan is also aimed at relieving the strain and overcrowding the country’s most popular cities, namely Venice, are experiencing. Roberto Reggio, from the State Property Agency, told The Local, “The goal is for private and public buildings which are no longer used to be transformed into facilities for pilgrims, hikers, tourists, and cyclists,” adding that “the project will promote and support the development of the slow tourism sector.”
As expected, the buildings up for grabs are all located off the beaten path–many on religious walking routes or cyclist paths rather than main drags. Some of the most obscure locations available include the 13th-century Castello di Montefiore and the Castello di Blera in Lazio, an 11th-century property built by nobility and perched on a cliffside, with many of its medieval features still intact.
To receive one of these free properties, applicants will need to submit a proposal, outlining their plans to transform the heritage sites. Recipients will have rights to own their respective properties for nine years, with the option to renew their contracts for a further nine years afterward. In some cases, entrepreneurs with a solid, inspiring proposal could receive up to a 50-year lease.
Applications must be submitted before June 26th, but if you miss out on this round’s worth of freebies, not to worry–the country is expected to include an additional 200 buildings in the project over the next two years.