At one point or another, most of us have wondered what it would be like to live in a castle. Setting aside potential problems like living expenses and the length of time it would take you to clean the place, it seems like quite the glamorous lifestyle. Now, thanks to a new project sponsored by Italy’s State Property Agency and Ministry of Cultural Heritage, this dream can become a reality for many, given that the country is giving away 103 buildings across the country.
The initiative, dubbed the Strategic Tourist Plan, seeks to revive crumbling landmarks and use them to boost the country’s tourism. Buildings up for grabs include historic villas, inns, monasteries, and yes, castles. Acquiring one of these landmarks is free; but there’s a catch.
Those who take up the offer —which is aimed at entrepreneurs and businesses mainly composed of under-40-year-olds— must agree to renovate the buildings and plots of land into something that will positively affect the country’s economy. This means giving a historic property a modern facelift to transform it into a hotel, spa, or luxury retreat while still preserving some of the original charm.
According to The Local, the aim of this project is to attract visitors outside the country’s main touristy areas, like the Amalfi Coast and especially Venice. By creating new tourism hotspots, Italy hopes to relieve the overcrowding the country’s most popular cities are experiencing.
"The project will promote and support the development of the slow tourism sector," Roberto Reggi 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."
Predictably, all the buildings are located off the beaten path. About 44 of the landmarks are located on historic or religious walking routes, like the Appian Way and Via Francigena, while the remaining are situated along cycle paths.
But before you move into your medieval castle, you’ll need a concrete proposal demonstrating exactly how you plan to transform the property. If approved, most recipients will have the rights to their respective properties for nine years with the option to renew for another nine, though some applicants with particularly strong proposals could be given a 50-year lease.
Applications must be submitted before June 26th and the full details for the initiative can be found on the State Property Agency’s website (though you may need to enlist the help of Google translate/an Italian friend, as it’s all written in Italian for now).
Not ready to commit to renovating a historic Italian property quite yet? Not to worry: Over the next two years, another 200 buildings are expected to be added to the project. Which gives you plenty of time to start gathering Italian home decor inspiration on Pinterest.
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