18 May 2017

Need a new start? You could be given a cash reward to live in an Italian village

In the developing world, urbanization has often taken the form of exploding populations in megacities: job perspectives and new technologies tend to attract more and more towards big cities, by increasing the returns to urban proximity.

Rural areas, economies and cultures are often the victims here. They are crushed by the dominant globalisation processes, as they are less affected by it than cities. However, it is exactly because the countryside rural areas are places which are often less connected to global networks, that they host refuges where authentic national cultures still persist. This is particularly true in Italy where the countryside rural villages are dying out. Emigration and natural calamities have left 6,000 villages abandoned, with another 15,000 on the brink.

The Municipality of Bormida, Italy, has decided to face the problem once and for all. The Municipality is basically giving a cash reward to those who relocate to Bormida, a village in the mountainous region of Liguria in north-west Italy, to stop it becoming completely deserted. The Mayor of the city, Daniele Galliano posted his idea on Facebook and it proved to be very popular

The village offers €2.000 (which is about 2.200$) in cash to anyone willing to move there and rents of €50 a month (which is less than 60$ a month) for smaller properties, while a more spacious one will be no more than €120. Bormida has become a bit of a ghost town in the past few years and as result because it’s so sparsely populated, rent has been lowered: tenants will be paying as little as €12.50 a week in rent as part of a scheme to boost the population.

Those willing to relocate to Bormida will join 394 other people, with the promise of a simple life, clear air, country living. The bargain is without a doubt appealing being Genoa, the nearest major city, just about 50 miles away.

The Mayor’s initiative appears then to be a breath of fresh air into the life of a village whose population has been more and more diminishing in recent decades, as young people leave to find work in the closest bigger cities. Mayor Galliano’s Facebook post was welcomed with lots of responses from potential new inhabitants, some even claiming that they would give up the prize in cash in return for a job in the town.

The finer details of the offer still need some more time to be set out, specified and approved by the local council, but dozens of people have already expressed they are willing to move there. If the initiative goes ahead, from next year anyone who transfers their residence to Bormida and either rents or buys a property there will be gifted €2,000. Mayor Galliano wrote on Facebook that the scheme will be rolled out most likely in two months.

However you feel about the place you live in, it is not difficult to imagine at this point you will probably be intrigued by the perspective of moving to Italy and even being offered money to live there. If you’re itching to get away, you look for a healthy lifestyle and clean air you cannot miss this opportunity: simple and natural life, forests, goats, churches and plenty of good food. Life would definitely be free of stress.

Galliano’s project seems to be apparently part a bigger plan to give new lifee to the Italian countryside.  As matter of fact, a recent report by Legambiente, an Italian environmental association, found that 2,500 villages across the country risked being abandoned owing to depopulation.

Statistic shows that up to 47 percent of Italy’s districts and municipalities are made up of ghost towns. The number is unfortunately constantly growing as younger people move to bigger urban areas for study or work. With villages often left to the older generation, in most cases, when older ones die, their towns fall into oblivion.

In January, the Culture Ministry named 2017 the “year of the village” as part of a project attempting to promote tourism in places at risk of getting deserted.

Italy in fact is currently granting under concession more than 100 historic buildings. The country is giving away castles, houses, and towers trying to boost ‘slow tourism’ and attract visitors away from the overcrowded and more stressful city centres.

In total, 103 sites – across the country from north to south – are up for grabs: old houses, inns, farmhouses, ancient monasteries and castles.

The only condition for this catch is that those taking up the offer must commit to restore the sites and requalify them into tourist facilities, such as hotels, restaurants, or spas.

The State Property Agency has announced the project as part of Italy’s Strategic Tourist Plan. The idea is to promote tourism of the lesser-explored destination in order to offset tourism on the country’s most popular and overcrowded areas. The goal is for private and public buildings no longer used to become facilities for pilgrims, tourists, hikers, etc.

The Italian government’s target of the initiative are young entrepreneurs, co-operatives and businesses made up of under-40-year-olds. In fact, only those meeting the “age requirement” will be eligible for an ‘Art Bonus’. Successful applicants will be grant the right to the property for nine years, after that they might even renew the contract for a further nine. Entrepreneurs with more concrete proposals may in some cases even could be given a 50-year lease.

Dott.sa Daniela Pacino


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