Bova enjoys a fascinating view of the coast. Italian villages will pay people to move to sleepy villages in the hope of reversing years of population decline. (Carmine Verduci)
CALABRIA, ITALY – Have you always dreamed of opening a craft store and settling for good in an idyllic village in southern Italy where it is hot most of the year – and getting paid to do it?
For those who want to take the plunge, this may soon be just a dream.
The Calabria region plans to offer up to 28,000 euros ($ 33,000) over a period of up to three years to people wishing to settle in sleepy villages of barely 2,000 people in the hope of reversing years of population decline.
These include locations near the sea, or on the mountainside, or both.
It’s not money for nothing, however. In order to get the funds, new residents must also commit to starting a small business, either starting from scratch or taking up pre-existing offerings from specific professionals sought after by cities.
There are also a few other captures.
Applicants must settle in and – sorry baby boomers – be at most 40 years old. They must be ready to move to Calabria within 90 days of receiving their request.
It is hoped that the offer will attract proactive young people and millennials eager to work.
Regional advisor Gianluca Gallo told CNN that monthly income could be anywhere from 1,000 to 800 euros (about $ 1,100 to $ 900) for two to three years. Alternatively, there could be one-time funding to support the launch of a new business activity – be it a bed and breakfast, restaurant, bar, rural farm or shop.
“We are refining the technical details, the exact monthly amount and duration of the funds, and the desirability of also including slightly larger villages with up to 3,000 inhabitants,” he told CNN. “So far we have generated tremendous interest from the villages and hopefully if this first program works, others will likely follow in the years to come. “
Dubbed “active residence income,” the project aims to boost Calabria’s appeal as a “southern work place” – southern Italy’s renamed version of remote working – explains Gianpietro Coppola, mayor of ‘Altomonte, who contributed to the program.
He says it’s a more targeted approach to revitalizing small communities than the euro 1 home sales that recently made headlines.
“We want it to be an experience of social inclusion. Attract people to live in the area, enjoy the surroundings, beautify unused places in the city such as conference rooms and convents with high-speed internet. Uncertain tourism and euro houses are not the best way to reorganize southern Italy, ”explains Coppola.
The “active residence income” project – and the application process – is expected to launch online in the coming weeks. The region we’ve been working on it for months and has already allocated more than 700,000 euros (approximately $ 820,000) to the project.
The region of Molise and the town of Candela in Puglia have adopted similar programs in recent years as an alternative to selling ruined houses for the price of an espresso.
More than 75% of Calabria’s towns – around 320 – currently have fewer than 5,000 inhabitants, raising fears that some communities may disappear completely in a few years unless regeneration occurs.
“The aim is to boost the local economy and breathe new life into small-scale communities,” adds Gallo. “We want to ensure that the demand for jobs meets the supply, which is why we asked the villages to tell us what kind of professionals they lack to attract specific workers.”
As world travel picks up and Italy welcomes tourists again, visiting the area this summer might be a good way to get a feel for Calabrian village life.
Here’s a look at the most scenic places you could end up living in.
At first, even Italian speakers can feel a bit lost here. Locals speak a strange-sounding Slavic dialect called Arbereshe.
The community was founded in the 1400s by Albanians fleeing the Turkish Empire.
Perched on a rocky cliff in the wild Pollino National Park once inhabited by bandits and outlaws, this tiny hamlet of barely 1,000 is what “authentic” Calabria is all about.
The gorges of the Raganello River, Italy’s largest canyon, are dotted with human-shaped boulders.
A winding path descends to the “Pont du Diable”. Old traditions, Byzantine rituals and special foods continue.
The old houses are connected by narrow circular alleys nicknamed “wrinkles” and have creepy chimneys believed to keep evil at bay.
Samo and Precacore
You will have the pleasure of living in two ancient hamlets at the same time here. Samo was founded by the ancient Greeks in search of shelter on the hills but not too far from the shore, turning the village into their “port”.
In the morning, the scent of freshly baked bread and cream cheese wafts over the village as women leave their low-rise stone peasant houses carrying baskets of food on their heads, as in olden times.
The best part of Samo is its ghost hamlet of Precacore, which rises right across the valley. From the main square of Samo, a small winding road leads up to the abandoned quarter.
Residents fled following a series of earthquakes, but today Precacore has been brought back from the grave and comes back to life during the summer.
Hikers, tourists and descendants of ancient families flock here to admire the Greco-Byzantine ruins.
Founded on the ashes of a Greek colony, the village is close to the comfortable beaches of Maratea and Praia a Mare.
It is small but elegant. The houses with red tiled roofs are grouped together at the foot of a majestic fortress with a panoramic loggia.
Renaissance palaces and opulent stone portals offer a glimpse of Tuscany in Calabria.
Eagles and wolves inhabit the woods. Hiking routes lead to the neighboring villages of Papasidero, Laino Borgo and Laino castello.
Legends say that an Armenian queen built this village on a hill where cows grazed – hence the name which recalls the term “cattle” in Italian (bue).
Known as the region’s “natural balcony” for the fascinating coastal scenery, it is located right at the tip of the Italian boot near Sicily, in the heart of “Greek Calabria” which flourished with settlers from Greece. antique.
Noble stone mansions with elaborate portals sit beneath the sheer ruins of a Norman castle.
As you stroll through the narrow streets, you can still hear the clattering of old looms. The tradition of weaving dates back thousands of years and the unique fiber broom plant is still picked from the peaks of the nearby Aspromonte mountains.
Fresh goat’s milk is on sale every day. Ethnic music festivals, a Byzantine Easter feast with fruit decorations, and a quaint carnival are must-see events.
This spectacular hilltop castle, built as a lookout post against pirate raids, overlooks a maze of alleys, stone houses, and tiny squares with private entrances.
Over the centuries, powerful feudal families ruled the village, killing and poisoning each other.
Olive groves dot the hills and produce premium extra virgin olive oil. Part of the fortress, with high walls and a loggia tower hidden inside a cistern, has been transformed into an elegant design complex.
Located at an altitude of 850 meters but with a territory that extends to the sea, this community benefits from a closed pine forest and a comfortable beach with a Saracen tower.
It is close to the border with Basilicata and Puglia, making it an ideal place to visit all three regions and make the most of the Pollino National Park and the warm sunny coast.
With a 10-minute car ride, locals can hop off for a swim or hop on for a refreshing yoga or trekking session.
Legend has it that it was founded by a blind seer fleeing from Troy on fire. The ruins of a ruined castle overlook orchards of cherry, almond and wild apple trees. The land is made of the same material as that of the Ionian Sea in Greece.
Sant’Agata del Bianco
A rural ambiance survives in this collection of humble peasant dwellings where thick yellowish stone walls and green painted doors take tourists back to the past.
The whole village and its cobbled streets have been carefully redesigned. The local path “Palmenti Route” follows a network of ancient wells dug into the rocky soil and formerly used for making wine.
Dating back to Greek and Byzantine times, this is an open-air piece of history. Colorful murals show verses from poems, smiling children’s faces and people drinking at the bar.
Fun attractions include the Wine Museum and the Rural “Lost and Found” Museum.
This village stands on a rocky tuff cliff overlooking the Neto River. It is built in layers according to wealth: the palaces belonging to the richest families are at the top of the hill, the humble dwellings below, carved into the rock.
There is a Greek and Hebrew quarter with palm trees.
The Baptistery is the oldest Byzantine monument in Calabria, while the impressive, well-maintained castle features underground passages and stables decorated with frescoes.
Santa Severina is known for its oranges. The villagers are nicknamed Aranciaru, which means “orange eaters” in the local dialect. The oranges grown here are the pride of Calabria, due to the fertile soil and exceptional nutritional qualities. They are sought after in the best restaurants and fruit salons.
San Donato di Ninea
Dating back to before Greek colonization, this charming village lies in the deepest area of Pollino National Park in Calabria.
It is so secluded and nestled in the hills that hardly anyone outside of Calabria knew it existed until the 1970s.
The view from above on the peaks embraces the two seas of the region: the Ionian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea.
This untouched and unspoiled place is home to many wild animals and plants and is considered one of the best nature reserves in Italy.
Orchids grow along mountain trails that lead to scenic huts. It is a chestnut paradise with popular food fairs.
Keep an eye on region website for project news