By: EMMA CHASTAIN
Italian depopulation has been a steady constant for the past six years after it reached its peak around 2015. The Guardian did a story on it in 2019, providing the information that —as of 2019— there were “an estimated 168.7 people over 65 for every 100 young people.” This made, in 2020, a disappointing ratio of births, just 67, per 100 deaths.
The Coronavirus has taken a large death toll on Italy. As of early February 17th, 94,171 deaths due to the Coronavirus have been recorded. Other countries have been hit harder, yet they haven’t all been struggling with depopulation for the past six years.
The Italian government has been making efforts to encourage people to come, settle down, and grow their families in Italy in a number of ways. The current administration was offering 160 euros a month to lower-income couples to assist with new-baby costs for example. Another, possibly more enticing offer for the common folk, is dramatic drops in housing prices.
Certain smaller, less populated towns have dropped their abandoned home prices to as low as 1 euro if you submit renovation plans. Previous owners have long moved on to more modern areas, or are ‘heirs’ to the properties and simply do not focus on the need to renovate their dilapidated legacy.
One such town is Troina Sicily. Their population has been declining for decades, as people leave the ancient town for more modern living spaces. In an interview with CNN, Troina’s mayor, Sebastiano Fabio Venezia, said that over 100 homes will be on the market soon (there were 30 in this particular district at the time of his interview). Along with renovation plans, buyers have to put down a 5,000 euro deposit to better ensure their promise of renovating.
Competition for some of these homes is high. CNN reported that one town, Biccari, according to their mayor, was “flooded with requests” receiving 20,000 emails inquiring about the homes. Naturally, wealthier, vacation-home seekers wanted to jump on this opportunity, or simply buy one of the also inexpensive pre-renovated homes. The whole point though was to get people to work there, put down roots there; live there. Reviving these towns to be what they once were: rich in history, with a strong foundation to face the future.