The castle-fortress of St. Severina, restored by Andrea Carafa, in Calabria Italy, dating back to the 11th century.  DeAgostini—Getty Images

Italy Will Give You a Castle For Free if You Promise to Restore It

May 19, 2017

Castles, abandoned farm homes, historic towers—these are among the 103 disused buildings that the Italian government will be giving away for free. But free, of course, does not mean it costs you nothing.

The Local Italy reports that the country's State Property Agency (SPA) has paired with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage to carry out the new scheme, under which the country's majestic yet dilapidated properties are handed over free of charge to entrepreneurs who pledge to restore them to their original splendor and open them to the public as restaurants, hotels or spas.

"The project will promote and support the development of the slow tourism sector," Roberto Reggi, a representative of the SPA, told The Local. "The goal is for private and public buildings which are no longer used to be transformed into facilities for pilgrims, hikers, tourists, and cyclists."

Nine-year, zero-dollar leases will be offered to successful applicants, which may be eligible for renewal. Disused school buildings, farmhouses, former convents and watchtowers are all among the offerings.

Italy's government hopes the initiative will help relieve pressure on some of the country's most overcrowded destinations—like the canal city of Venice—and instead entice tourists off the beaten path. Many of the properties are located on historic walking routes and along scenic bicycle paths.

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In Marche, a region in central Italy, with the right pitch you can lease the 13th-century Castello di Montefiore, a retired defense compound, or Lazio's 11th century Castello di Blera, a cliffside castle not far from Rome.

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