Quaint Sicilian town giving away houses for free

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 23, 2015 02:24 IST

A town in Sicily is giving away houses for free. There is, however, a small catch.

The properties in Gangi -- a quaint central town in Sicily -- are dilapidated, with some abandoned generations ago, according to the The New York Times. "The structures give new meaning to the term 'fixer-upper', and anyone who acquires one of the properties has just four years to restore it and make it livable," the newspaper reported.

"We inform Italian and EU citizens that in the town of Gangi there are old houses that will be granted free of charge to those who request them. The request may be submitted both by companies who want to transform the houses into hotels and from individuals for their own private use," an official release by the town administration said.

While Gangi had a population of about 16,000 in the 1950s, it is home to about 7,000.

Mass emigration from Sicily at the start of the last century and following World War II saw around 9,000 locals leave Gangi for new lives in Argentina or the United States -- driven away by poverty, lawlessness and sickness.

Many of the houses need extensive repairs, including new roofs, staircases or floors -- jobs eagerly snapped up by local contractors.

Mayor Giuseppe Ferrarello told AFP last year the village, founded in the 12th century, may not be close to the sea, but it prides itself instead on its mountain air, hospitality and food, with local specialities including peppered goats cheese and homemade pasta with broad beans.

Read: The land of The Godfather: There's more to Sicily than wildflowers and colourful street markets

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