Italy’s region of Emilia Romagna is paying people under 40 up to €30,000 to move to its mountain towns and buy or restore a house, in a bid to revamp depopulated areas.
The goal is to breathe new life into off-the-radar places where living conditions are tougher due to location, less efficient services and infrastructures, or where the population has shrunk in past decades after locals fled in search of a brighter future elsewhere.
Emilia Romagna has lots to offer, not just its famed Spaghetti Bolognaise (wrong name for Tagliatelle al Ragù), the Adriatic Riviera with its wild discos and the artistic cities of Ferrara, Modena, and Ravenna featuring UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites.
The quiet, peaceful hamlets and villages dotting the Apennine Mountain range offer detox, unplugged stays amid pristine fields and oxygen-rich forests.
But are a bucolic, idyllic scenery and untouched landscape enough to call a place ‘home sweet home’? Living there isn’t quite the same as going for a short holiday, that’s why newcomers are being offered financial help to move uphill and settle in.
In order to qualify for the funds, young couples, families and singles must either recover an old property in a mountain town by completely refurbishing it, or buy a new house.
But there’s a catch. The housing scheme is restricted to people already living or working in the region and willing to abandon larger cities and towns in search of a life-changing experience in one of the 119 mountain towns involved in the project. However, if it’s a family or couple, just one person must reside or work in Emilia Romagna.
Foreigners can also apply, as long as one member of the family already has residency in Emilia Romagna, works or runs a business activity in the region.
Interested applicants must restyle an old property within two years or complete the purchase of a new one in 9 months. They are also required to remain in the area for several years once they decide to move in. And no jobless are accepted. Families eager to get financial support to have a new cozy abode up on the hills, where it often snows in winter, must already have a yearly income of €50,000.
In recent years, several Italian towns and regions have offered to pay newcomers to move in and take up residency in a bid to revive sleepy communities and recover the lost social buzz.