Italian mayor offers €2,000 to anyone willing to live in small idyllic village in Puglia
An Italian town is offering to pay people up to €2,000 (£1,800) to move there.
Nicola Gatta, mayor of Candela, a small town in Puglia, has made the offer in the hope of reversing the town’s declining population.
Gatta told CNN Travel that he wants to bring numbers back up to the 8,000 of the 1990s, when the town was known as “Little Naples”. Today, there are just 2,700 residents.
The declining population of Italy’s borghi – historical small towns – has been a matter of national concern for decades. Many people emigrated in the post-war years, and since then, a combination of ageing populations, economic squeeze and lack of opportunities has seen an exodus from the countryside to the cities.
Many have tried to find solutions. In Lazio, Civita di Bagnoregio – which has just 12 permanent residents – has reinvented itself as an Instagram-perfect weekend retreat from Rome. The strategy has worked so well that visitor numbers have risen from 40,000 to 800,000 a year – something former Italian premier Matteo Renzi recently called “an example for everyone”.
The albergo diffuso model – in which abandoned apartments are turned into a “scattered hotel” is also making headway, providing income for the towns as well as jobs for the locals. The brainchild of Giancarlo Dall’Ara, the scheme is proving popular in Puglia, down in the heel of Southern Italy, which has seen mass emigration over the past few decades.
And in nearby Calabria, refugees are breathing new life into Riace, a town that had been all but abandoned by locals. Author Roberto Saviano said in a recent interview with Vanity Fair Italy that refugees are the future for Italy’s economy.
The offer to pay people to move to a village is not new. In May, Daniele Galliano, the mayor of Bormida – a small town in rural Liguria – offered €2,000 via Facebook to anyone who wanted to move. He soon withdrew the offer after being inundated with potential residents.
Gatta, however, seems in it for the longhaul. Six families have already moved from Northern Italy, with another five in the process of relocating, he told CNN.
Interested in the dolce vita? You’ll need to commit to being a permanent resident, rent a house in the town, and earn more than €7,500 per year. If you meet the requirements, the council will pay €800 for singles and €1,200 for couples. Families of up to five receive over €2,000. Tax credits on council bills and childcare are also available.
As for the logistics of your new life, be warned that this isn’t classic beachside Puglia. Candela sits inland – to the east of the Appennines, 40 minutes south of much-maligned Foggia and an hour from the coast. It is an easy drive from the pristine Gargano peninsula – the ‘spur’ of Italy’s boot, with pilgrimage site San Giovanni Rotondo, the home of Italian saint Padre Pio, just 90 minutes away. And the locals are enthusiastic. “Life quality rocks here,” says Stefano Bascianelli, who works with the mayor.
The nearest airport is Bari, 90 minutes south-east, and well served for international flights.