Italian city of Biccari in Puglia sells ready-to-occupy houses at discount costs
(CNN) – If you’ve been tempted to buy one of the rundown homes for sale in Italy for a little over $ 1 but were concerned about the hassle of renovating it, one city has an offer you might want temptation. Biccari, deep in the southeast of Puglia, also sells run-down houses for € 1. In contrast to other travel destinations, however, Biccari also offers bargains for places that are ready to move into.
Prices for empty turnkey apartments start at € 7,500. Most are in the range of 10,000 to 13,000 euros.
The sale is part of Mayor Gianfilippo Mignogna’s mission to rescue his ailing hometown from the grave after years of people going to Italian cities or abroad, mostly to the United States, to look for work. The slow exodus has claimed a population that peaked at 5,000 in the 1950s.
“We’re barely 2,000 people,” he tells CNN. “Depopulation is an open wound, a constant phenomenon. Locals keep going and while most of them came back to visit in the summer, they don’t anymore. Many habitable houses are empty and are being forgotten.”
He says he now wants to get back the buildings they left behind.
The Mayor of Biccari says many of the houses for sale are ready to move into.
Courtesy Comune Biccari
“One day I was wandering the old town and it struck me how many cute little houses in perfect shape had been closed for years, hidden in quiet alleys, with ‘for rent or for sale’ signs that no one sees.
“I thought the best way would be to involve these no longer interested owners and sell them immediately.”
There are about a dozen € 1 and 20 “upper” houses, but there may be more than 100 empty buildings in Biccari that require new residents.
Photos and maps of the properties will soon be online on the Town Hall website. Interested parties are kindly asked to contact Mignogna ([email protected]).
The online platform is divided into two areas: € 1 houses and cheap houses.
If you are satisfied with a shabby 1 euro apartment, you have to pay a guarantee of 3,000 euros, which must be returned after the work has been completed, possibly within three years. Unlike other Italian cities that have implemented similar programs, the deadline for completion will be extended when the work is already in full swing and there is a good reason for the delay.
The roof of Apulia
Biccari is located in the deepest Apulia in southeast Italy.
Courtesy Comune Biccari
Biccari offers an impressive location. It lies on the border between three regions – Puglia, Molise, and Campania – and is surrounded by pristine Daunia Mountains, dense forests, herding fields, olive groves, and a lake.
Biccari lies at the foot of the region’s highest peak, Monte Cornacchia (also known as Carrion Crow’s Mount). From above you have a view of the Adriatic coast, the Gargano promontory and the Tremiti Islands. The area is known as “the roof of Puglia”.
Biccari’s name is believed to come from the Italian word “bicchiere”, which means glass, as the village is shaped like an upside-down cup.
The landscape is littered with ruins of prehistoric settlements and old farms.
Biccari was founded by the ancient Romans in the ashes of a primitive village and flourished centuries later in the Middle Ages. Not much remains of the old fortified walls, but a single tower still stands at the entrance to the village and houses art exhibitions and museum exhibitions.
Biccari is a land of shepherds, monks and once even outlaws. It is surrounded by a network of ancient walking trails and trails that meander over hilltop picnic areas. It is a wild piece of Apulia that is roamed by wolves, foxes and wild boars.
“We are a corner of paradise, ideal for slow ourism,” says Mignogna. “The fresh mountain air and the natural surroundings offer a detoxified, unplugged stay away from city chaos, pollution and noise.”
Secure the future
Like many Italian cities, Biccari has suffered depopulation over the years.
Courtesy Comune Biccari
Biccari’s cobblestone streets are lined with old and colorful newer houses. Crumbling stone apartments with cracked wooden doors, broken window panes and peeling wall paint are juxtaposed with beautiful houses with ornate stone arches, small courtyards and painted windows with flower pots.
The 1 € and more expensive houses for sale are all in the old town around the majestic tower. The turnkey houses are smaller, around 50 to 70 square meters in size, and are spread over two floors. Some have views of the green hills with wind turbines. Closed for years, most of the second homes are owned by emigrant families that are well cared for but are no longer used by their descendants.
New owners may want to make minimal changes based on personal tastes, but the mayor says the cheap houses are already habitable and may be a better deal than the € 1 as their price might be lower than the cost of renovating one rundown house building.
Reaching the heirs of the rundown homes, often scattered around the world, can be difficult, Mignogna said, but revitalizing the old district is also a security issue.
“I will expropriate the properties of old owners who do not respond to our call to redesign their unstable family house or alternatively hand it over to us. Roof tiles often fall off and that is a danger for passers-by. The city’s urban architecture must be secured. ”
Biccari is surrounded by a landscape with hiking trails and picnic areas.
Courtesy Comune Biccari
While the village may need a thorough renovation, the landscape is idyllic. The surrounding forests offer “nature adventure” accommodations and experiences, including lessons in environmental awareness, archery and survival skills.
There are tree houses in which tourists can sleep floating above the ground, and acrobatic “tree walks” on ropes.
Biccari has a dark past, some of which are depicted in strange images that adorn the walls of the village. Portals of old houses show signs of battles and attacks by outlaws and secessionists who fought against the “tyrannical” Italian state as early as the 19th century. Murders and executions are said to have taken place in the public piazza.
Fiery locals pride themselves on their bandit legacy. The villagers protected wanted outlaws and still celebrated them as heroes. A “bloody” tourist path leads visitors to important places of the uprising with sculptures of historically important people who have lost their lives.
Another Biccari hero is the native Ralph de Palma, a popular Italian-American racing driver who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1915 after emigrating to the United States. A museum in the city is dedicated to him.
Cheese and sausages
The American racing driver Ralph De Palma was born in Biccari.
General Photo Agency / Getty Images
The region is known for its waist-stretching food. At the annual Pizze e Furne Aperte fair, tourists are treated to a special type of flat white pizza, made in open ovens using an ancient technique. Chili powder is sprinkled over it.
It’s cheese heaven. “U ‘Mascjuottele” is a premium hard cheese made from local goat’s milk. It can be eaten fresh or dry and rubbed over dishes. Goats in Biccari are known as “the cows of the poor” and have always been the main source of protein.
The extra virgin olive oil is one of the tastiest in Puglia and it is believed that the first trees were brought by ancient Greek colonial masters.
Another top delicacy is sausages made from wild black piglet, which has a tastier meat. Families hang salami and sausages on ceiling hooks. And there are plenty of pasta plates with top quality local truffles and wild mountain flowers and herbs.
And in case you are worried that it might be too quiet, the old town regularly hosts folklore dance festivals with traditional singing until late at night.