(CNN) – You wait a while for a house that is practically given away to you, and then the three come together.
Yes, the € 1 houses of Italy are back – and at this time, the one for the tombs is a collection of houses in the southern region of Mollis.
Castropignano – a village topped by a ruined medieval castle, 140 miles southeast of Rome – is the latest community to offer its abandoned buildings to newcomers.
However, unlike most schemes that auction dilapidated buildings from € 1, or $ 1.20, Castropignano are doing things differently.
There are about 100 abandoned buildings here, but instead of selling to the highest bidder, Mayor Nicola Scapillati wants to match the right home for interested parties.
“The plan here works somewhat differently,” he says.
“I am moving forward with two parallel paths, reaching both potential buyers and old owners step by step at the same time to meet demand.
“I don’t want my city to be attacked by a property getaway or turned into the latest housing betting deal.”
A consistent operation
The village sits in the Apennine Mountains
In fact, Scapillati wants to e-mail him directly to interested parties, instead of going through the authorities.
“I welcome anyone who wants to buy a new house to email me directly (nicola.scapillati)[AT]me.com) with a detailed plan of how they want to restyle and what they want to do with the property – be it a home, B&B, store or artisan shop.
“They should list any requirements such as wheelchair access to people. The village is small and cars cannot navigate narrow streets and steps.”
The more specific the request, the easier it is to locate suitable accommodation and contact with the current owner.
“It’s a targeted, tailored operation,” he says. “People need to know who they are actually signing up for.”
So what’s the catch? There are, of course, conditions. Buyers must renovate the property within three years from purchase and cough up a down payment guarantee of € 2,000 ($ 2,378), which will be returned after the work is finished.
Making the village safe
The owners have been asked to renovate their abandoned homes, or the council will take them
The project was launched in October, when officials told owners of abandoned properties that if they did not renovate them themselves, the city would take ownership of them for safety reasons.
By now, many owners have already agreed to hand over their properties, eager to let the homes go. It will cost money to demolish them.
Scapillati is confident that at least 50 people will join it. If they do not do so, the city council will close the homes of those who do not respond, and put them on the market.
Meanwhile, dozens of aspiring people from Europe have already approached them, asking to buy homes. And he hopes that, with their help, the village will not only regain its joie de vivre, but also become safe.
“It inspires me to see the beauty of our ancient historical center, which slowly falls from falling houses,” says the mayor.
“It is sad and dangerous. Without renovation these buildings are in danger. They can collapse any minute – it is also a matter of making the village safe”.
Scapillati – whose family had gone to work in the wealthy north of Italy – told of his origins as an adult. He returned on a mission to maintain the village’s architecture, in the hope that it might continue his traditions.
“I want to stop its track deterioration, keeping the village flame alive. I am inspired by the passion and love for my hometown.”
And although Castropigno isn’t exactly a lively place – it just has a restaurant, a bar, a pharmacy and a few B & Bs – they think it has a sleepy charm.
“Here we find nothing but peace, silence, pristine nature, oxygen-rich air, spectacular views and sumptuous food, which is ideal for relieving daily stress. It is not buzzing with life, let me say this But peaceful and simple “, he says.
Today, there are barely 900 residents, down from 2,500 in the 1930s. After World War II, families migrated in search of a better future; Then, from the 1960s, young people started moving to big cities to study and find work.
Today, 60% of the residents are over 70 years of age.
A past tense
‘Dodda’, or annual dowry festival
But Skepillati want to regain the glory of bygone days when Castropignano was a feudal center blooming with artisans, merchants and travelers crossing from Italy, protected by a powerful duke. In fact, this village was once famous for its artisans and cemeteries.
Situated on a rocky hill in the central Apennine Mountains of Italy, Castropignano is built atop an ancient settlement of an ancient settlement, an ancient Italian people who used it as a defensive quest against the Romans – who eventually defeated them.
The Sammanis built forts and settlements in the surrounding countryside. In the valley below the village, there are ruins of ancient Roman villas as well as a huge stone monument, built by the Samanis. Half an hour to the south are the magnificent ruins of Sapinam, a city founded by the Samanis and then taken over by the Romans, whose city walls, theaters and temples still exist.
It is the deepest part of the Molise, a region of Italy largely unknown to tourists, located east of Lazio and between Abruzzo and Puglia on the southern Adriatic coast.
The lack of visitors helped maintain its rural authenticity, making Mollis one of Italy’s best kept secrets.
Castropignano’s abandoned houses lie atop a medieval castle with a roof in the historic center – it was bombed during the war and many of its stones were used to build homes that are now on sale.
A labyrinth of winding, cobblestonid lanes, gargoyle-covered arches and pathways connect the palace to the upper residential layers of the village.
Another group of homes for sale are in the clifftop hamlet of Roxpromomonte, a few miles up a high bluff. Near it is the Santiario della Madonna del Peschio, a ruined forest church now open to the elements with the sky and its roofs and oak trees as walls.
Nuts and bolts
A resident says that the stones are ‘alive’ here
So what is it for tombs? Scapillati says that most of the buildings for sale are in decent shape, although they have no-door, peeling paint and are partially covered in vegetation.
He said that a complete renovation would start at around € 30,000–40,000 ($ 35,000–48,000). Italian taxpayers receive tax credits for environmentally friendly and seismic work.
But it has a lot of potential. The architecture is a rasa of styles – richly ornate portals at the entrance to simple cottages. And many houses have panoramic views of the translucent Biferno River running through the valley.
Cecilia Vempa, a pensioner from Rome who fell in love with Castropignano during her university years, has made some accommodations here. She says that the stones are alive.
“A poem is woven into the way they are chiselled through artistry and hard work. These stones tell a story, I fell in love with them. They shook the emotions.”
Vempa says that she likes to have a neatly laid-back community and welcoming locals. In Castropignano, she says, she has found “the lost rural peace of her teens”.
Ghost and parade
Mollis is one of the most untouched regions of Italy
Even today, the village is back in an earlier era. In the day, families slept on the upper floors while the kitchen and living areas were on the second level. Domestic animals such as chickens, and donkeys – the only means of transport – were kept in stables on the ground floor.
An ancient cowboy way through the village to move animals between summer and winter pastures – it is still used for grazing sheep and cows as well as bike tours, walks and horse rides.
And every summer, villagers celebrate “dodda” – the re-enactment of the custom, whereby young girls are married for dowry. Women dressed to tie the knot parade through the streets in traditional white robes of linen, blankets and other bridal accessories made by their grandmothers. It is a symbolic gesture believed to bring good luck.
Even the enchanted forests full of dwarves and fairies have terrifying tales that sing melancholy ragas at midnight.
Gastro treats and beach retreats
Tremity islands are within reach of the village
Enit Photo Collection
Today, it is the kind of food that will persuade those on the fence to move to Castroignano. Local specialties include succulent-stuffed softtress sausages, cold cuts and cotton (pork rind) – said to be thanks to the fresh air.
Caveatelli is screw-shaped pasta served with pork ragu sauce, while ‘mabanisia is a special soup cooked with corn “pizza” (stale bread crumbs). Typical cheese in the area is OG Caciovello, which is tied with a knot and hung with a cord, giving it a distinctive teardrop shape.
Premium black and white truffles are found in the surrounding countryside, while local vineyards produce mollis’ best known red wine, tintilia.
Got a sweet tooth? Get ready to feast on savory jam, fill the Christmas cake with candied fruit called Pigna, and dip it in almond and honey biscuit wine.
Day trips to both Rome and Naples are possible, as Castropignano is located between the two. It is also within reach of the famous beaches of the Adriatic coast, as well as the snow-capped mountains of the ski resort Campitello Maltese. A hotspot for tourists from Italy – ferry boats to the undefined Tremity islands – depart from Termoli, an hour’s drive away.