Italy thought of a crazy way to boost tourism — and it involves giving away free castles

Italy thought of a crazy way to boost tourism — and it involves giving away free castles

italy castleA view of the sail boats taking part in the 47nd edition of the traditional “Barcolana” regatta in the gulf of Trieste, north-eastern Italy, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015. The Barcolana is an annual sailing race in the Gulf of Trieste with hundreds of participants which is described by the organizers as “everybody’s regatta.” In foreground, the Miramare Castle. AP Photo/Paolo Giovannini

If you’ve ever wanted to live in an Italian castle for the low low price of absolutely nothing, today is your lucky day.

Thanks to a new scheme by the country’s government-run State Property Agency, Italy is giving away 103 castles, towers, inns, farmhouses, and monasteries for free.

Of course, there’s a catch—sort of. If you acquire one of these disused properties, you have to transform the building “ into facilities for pilgrims, hikers, tourists, and cyclists,”  Roberto Reggi from the State Property Agency told The Local Italy . In other words, you have to take a building that’s fallen into disrepair and turn into a hotel, restaurant, or maybe one of those cool cafe/bookstores that you sometimes find in repurposed churches around Europe.

The idea is to boost tourism to the eight historic districts in which these properties are located. Given that these districts run along the shimmering coastline and through the breathtaking countryside all the way down to Sicily, it seems like this should be a pretty easy thing to do.

 Not to mention that many of these routes are of interesting historical value, like Via Francigena, an ancient route that pilgrims took to get from Europe to Puglia and the Holy Land via Rome. Others offer breathtaking scenery for cyclists, like the Ciclovia VenTo, which takes you from Venice to Turin on the banks of the Po. You can see pictures of the properties on offer by clicking on the route that interests you on their website.

La Sacra di San Michele è un’antichissima abbazia costruita tra il 983 e il 987 sulla cima del monte Pirchirano, a 40 km da Torino. Dall’alto dei suoi torrioni si possono ammirare il capoluogo piemontese e un panorama della Val di Susa. E’ uno dei monumenti simbolo della Regione Piemonte ed è aperta al pubblico per visite guidate ed eventi durante tutto l’anno. Dalla sacra di San Michele passava un’importante via di pellegrinaggio, la #viafrancigena, nella sua variante alpina della Val di Susa, che univa Mont-Saint-Michel, in Francia, al santuario di #sanmichelearcangelo, vicino Foggia. Lo scrittore #umbertoeco si è ispirato a questa suggestiva abbazia benedettina per ambientare il suo celebre romanzo #ilnomedellarosa #sacradisanmichele #immobilipubblici #torino #piemonte #immobili #demanio #agenziadeldemanio #conosciamoilpatrimonio @igerspiemonte @igerstorino pic by #alicecurrado

A post shared by Agenzia del Demanio (@agenziademanio) on Nov 28, 2016 at 6:46am PST on

To get your hands on one of these properties, you have to submit a proposal via their website , describing how you plan to transform the location into the new international hotspot (related question: how easy is it to install wifi in a medieval monastery?). The application period is open until June 26, and special preference is given to people under 40, in order to foster young entrepreneurs.

If you’re successful, you will be given the property rights to the building for 9 years, with the option of extending for another nine years after that. Work is expected to start next summer.

If you don’t manage to score a castle, however, don’t despair. The project, which is backed by Italy’s Ministry of Tourism, plans to include 200 more buildings within the next to years, in an effort to attract more visitors to these gorgeous villages tucked away just off the beaten path.

Read the original article on Observer. Copyright 2017. Follow Observer on Twitter.

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