For sale: entire medieval Italian village for £485,000
Categories: Homes / Dwellings
It sounds almost too good to be true: an entire medieval village in Italy for sale for the price of a modest flat in London.
When you are ready to escape a flat in London or the big house in The Hamptons, £485,000 will buy the historic village of Valle Piola, which is surrounded by wild and mountainous terrain in the heart of one of the country's biggest national parks.
Italy is littered with abandoned hill villages but Valle Piola is a particular gem, consisting of 11 crumbling stone buildings, including a half-ruined 13th century church and two shepherds' houses.
It lies in the middle of the Gran Sasso national park in the central Abruzzo region, an area that has been severely depopulated by a decline in sheep farming.
The settlement was first mentioned in records in 1059 and some of the houses have distinctively-shaped wooden balconies believed to have been influenced by Lombard invaders from Italy's north.
It lies at an altitude of more than 3,000ft, in a natural amphitheatre of mountains in the Apennines, buffeted by snow and gales during the winter and baked by the sun during long, hot summers.
Its only link with the outside world is a dusty dirt road that, once it runs through the village, peters out into a mule track. The nearest airports are Ancona, Perugia and Pescara.
The local council, along with an elderly man who owns some of the buildings, has put Valle Piola on the market for €550,000 because there are no public funds to protect the place from vandals, let alone restore it.
The same sum would buy a three-bedroom town house in Hackney or a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Covent Garden.
The council hopes that a buyer will come forward and breathe new life into the hamlet.
"It's been deserted for about 30 years," said Daniele Palumbi, the mayor of the nearby town of Torricella Sicura.
"It's a beautiful spot, a real jewel, and the buildings are all made of local stone. We're not giving an estimate of how much it would cost to make the houses habitable – it will be up to the buyer to come up with a plan.
"There's been a lot of interest from potential buyers in Italy, though nothing from abroad so far because it has not been widely publicised.
"It could be turned into private homes or some sort of tourist development."
One option would be to turn the village into what Italians call an albergo diffuso, in which the entire hamlet would become a spread-out hotel, with guests staying in individual houses.
The model was pioneered in another part of Abruzzo by a Swedish-Italian entrepreneur, Daniele Kihlgren, who bought up the half-derelict village of Santo Stefano and has since turned it into a luxury boutique destination.
Anyone interested in buying the village should contact Giacomo Ciapanna, the surveyor in charge of the sale, by emailing vallepiola@ or calling +39 3384754099.
Source: The Telegraph