For the price of a cup of coffee, you can buy one of 200 historic stone homes on the picturesque Mediterranean isle of Sardinia. The village of Ollolai is selling its empty housing stock at a steep discount in an effort to attract new residents. Over the last 50 years, the town’s population has dwindled from 2,250 people to just 1,300—and there are homes to spare.
The idea to sell homes for €1 ($1.25) came from the village’s mayor, Efisio Arbau. “We boast prehistoric origins,” said Arbau. “My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion.”
The homes up for grabs are all in various states of disrepair, many of which have been uninhabited for decades. Buyers are required to renovated the buildings within three years, at an estimated expense of roughly $25,000.
But Ollolai is quick to note the benefits of life in its walls: access to the locals’ famous sheep cheese Casu Fiore Sardo, fine artisan baskets, mouth-watering delicacies, and traditional celebrations—the town still dresses up in costume for carnivals and holds an archaic ritual known as “s’istrumpa” in which players have to toss rivals to the ground to get the town’s respect.
“We need to bring our grandmas’ homes back from the grave,” said Arbau. “They’re picturesque old buildings made with Sardinia’s typical gray granite rock that grows on mountain peaks and shores.”
Three houses have already been sold, with more than a hundred additional purchase requests from all over the world. A reality show about a set of Dutch families moving to Ollolai and restoring their homes is expected to premier in May.
This isn’t the first time Italians are giving away historic buildings in exchange for much-needed renovations under new owners. Even castles have been put on offer.