Italian Properties for 1€ Still Up for Grabs

Posted in What to Buy, Where to Live

The best investment on earth is earth. And why wouldn’t it be? They’re not making any more of it. That may be the case the world over, with the little exception of one (or a handful of) places – quaint villages all across Italy. Not only are the prices ridiculously affordable, it is in fact so low that even pocket change, can make you a homeowner. For the measly sum of 1€ (US$1.1), a house in rural Italy can be yours. Here’s the catch: they all belong in abandoned towns and part of the purchase agreement requires buyers to spend a minimum of 22,470€ (US$25,000) in refurbishments, renovations and upkeep over the course of a few years and a small security deposit. 

The unbelievable bargain price was set to woo potential new residents to revitalise what had become ghost towns due to locals emigrating to metropolitan cities in pursuit of bigger opportunities. In an attempt to salvage emptied out villages, the cheap sale would restore towns to a healthy population. 

The news of one euro homes for sale in Sambuca of Italy first broke last year. The story of the cheapest property in the world went viral. And now, after over a year of test driving the concept to lure investors to tap into the untouched, depopulated town, neighbouring villages are starting to follow suit. Is it too late to get in on the action? No. The good news is the first people to snap up these homes have now moved in and the returns are positive. So where are these 1€ homes you ask? Here’s a list of some of the most gorgeous, forgotten places all over Italy. 

Bivona 

Binova is one of the newcomers to join the 1€ movement. The Sicilian town also offers tax bonuses to anyone who is willing to move in. Town councillor Angela Cannizzaro is facilitating the great interest in the homes by setting up multilingual agencies to help buyers navigate through the process. There are currently 10 houses on the market, but more will be made available soon. 

Cammarata 

If waking up to a beautiful sunrise gets your day going, then Cammarata is the place. Known as “the town with 1,000 balconies to the East,” the Sicilian town is known for its views and hearty local cuisine. Cammarata is also one of the most attractive deals with not just the dollar pricetag of a home, but also due to the government handing out a US$1,116 (1,000€) incentive for every baby born in town. 

Gangi

As one of the first towns to be listed for 1€, Gangi has become one of the most popular property markets offering this special deal. “Over 160 crumbling dewllings got a makeover thanks to new owners and this has triggered a revival also for the private real estate market. The old centre shines again,” Mayor of Sicily explains. There are about 15 homes that are still available, so if Gangi is one of the places you’ve been eyeing, act fast. 

Sambuca 

Sambuca is probably the one you’ve heard of if you’ve looked into dollar homes. It was the first town to offer the unbeatable deal, and thus has garnered overwhelming interest. With such great demand, local authorities have set up auctions to offer homes to the highest bidder. Only one of 16 homes were actually sold for 1€, with the highest being 25,000€. So a little on the pricier side, but what’s a little extra for Sambuca’s illustrious mazes, rugged hills and local wine?

Zungoli 

Location, location, location. That’s what it’s about at Zungoli, which borders Naples and the Amalfi coast. Aristocratic mansions, cobble steps and ancient castles make Zungoli one of the most romantic and picturesque towns in Italy. In preparation of the sale, this old rural land gets an upgrade with new pavements, public lights and lightning WiFi. Thirty houses have been sold, but there are more lots available for purchase. 

So if being a property owner of a home in the rustic romantic towns of Italy for dirt cheap is a dream of yours, it isn’t too late. Get a piece of the pie by applying here or here and start packing.

Dara Chau

5 Luxury Private Islands You Can Own Around the World

Posted in How the One Percent Live

Everyone always dreams of owning their own private island — a slice of pure, unspoilt, one hundred percent secluded tropical paradise. From the Bahamas to Fiji and even right off the coast of the United States, these private islands can be yours for the taking — at a hefty price, of course.

Bonefish Cay, Bahamas

Located in the stunning archipelago of the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas, this exclusive first class island features five buildings totalling 15,000 sq. ft., constructed of fine materials and completely hurricane-proof. The island is littered with white-sand beaches, nature trails that wind the perimeter of the island, and a treasure trove of local flora, fauna and wildlife for bird, turtles and dolphin sightings. Don’t miss one of the best activities: deep sea fishing in the cobalt blue waters.

The Main Lodge features 5,000-sq.-ft. of living space, along with a panoramic 360-degree view of the island and the Atlantic Ocean. Entertain your guests with a professional chef-designed kitchen including a 28-ft. maple bar, indoor dining with seating for 14, and an expansive patio for al fresco dining. Three other bungalows come fully furnished, with the island accommodating 14 guests altogether with two sets of staff. As an added bonus, new owners will be given the island’s motor boats, jet skis, wave runners, scuba gear and more.

Reach Bonefish Cay via seaplane or helicopter landings on the eastern side of the island. There are daily international flights from Floria to the airports in Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay, where you can find supermarkets, banks, hardware stores and more.

Priced at US$7,000,000 (approx. HK$54,409,880). Visit here for more info.

Emerald Coast, Porto Cervo, Italy

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a hideaway more secluded than this luxurious private island located in Porto Cervo, Italy. It’s easy to live la bella vita in this heavenly paradise, spanning a total of four hectares and surrounded by the azure sea, pristine white-sand beaches, hidden coves for swimming, juniper gardens and granite sculptures.

Spend your days lounging around the magnificent property which encompasses a variety of dwellings covering 650 square metres, staring with the 24-sq.-mtr. main abode with three double bedrooms and three en suite bathrooms, living area, dining room, kitchen, and terraces for outdoor entertaining. Set sail on the waters from the neighbouring quay with your own private yacht, then come back to a fantastic home-cooked meal to enjoy on the lengthy pier.

Price upon request. Visit here for more info.

Mai Island, Fiji

Arrive via a short boat ride from Labasa town (accessibly via daily flights from Nadi International Airport) and step onto this exclusive private island escape with fully-furnished residences. Primed for honeymooners, the tropical paradise is surrounded by soft sandy beaches, lush forest, and the aquamarine waters that Fiji is famous for. Days can be spent taking long, leisurely walks through the gardens, lush with coconut and papaya trees, pineapples and exotic flora.

Take a pair of binoculars to view the panoply of wildlife including indigenous island parrots in brilliant shades of blues and greens. Pick the local sweet peppers, then take a dip in the fresh water springs where colourful Koi fish swim. A deep water anchorage on the eastern side of the island is available for docking large yachts, from which you can go boating, snorkelling, diving and jet skiing to explore the archipelago’s wonders.

Price upon request. Visit here for more info.

Potato Island, Thimble Islands, Connecticut

States-side residents looking for their own private retreat close to home should look no further than this beautiful island right off the East Coast. A brief two-minute boat ride from the shores of Stony Creek, Connecticut, this spectacular private island is for those seeking ultimate privacy not too far from home. The island features a 3,781-sq.-ft. residence encompassing four bedrooms (two are suites), three and a half baths, kitchen, living room, and a heated granite pool and Jacuzzi.

Days can be spent sipping drinks on the spacious porch with 360-degree water views, or strolling on the well-manicured grounds including a private deep water dock. Owners can take their boat right to the mainland and back for daily excursions, or spend the afternoon snorkelling in crystal blue waters and jet-skiing. The island is located 85 miles to New York City and 135 miles to Boston, with available parking space arrangements in Stony Creek for easy access.

Priced at US$4,900,000 (approx. HK$38,085,250). Visit here for more info.

Bird Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas

With an 8,000-sq.-ft. residence encompassing four bedrooms and three bathrooms, this private island is a picture of beauty and tranquillity, ideal for a secluded tropical escape in the heart of the Berry Islands, Bahamas. A picture of unspoilt beauty, the 250-acre tropical island is accessible via a 30-minute flight from Nassau. The island is surrounded by sand banks, with proximity to the Great Bahama Bank and the Tongue of the Ocean for fishing, sailing and scuba-diving options.

For a quick escape, Chub Cay lies just west of Bird Cay; from there, you can visit the picturesque marina, private resort club, world-class restaurants and more. Back on your base in Bird Cay, while away the days walking the sandy beaches with the crystalline waters lapping at your feet, exploring the numerous trails through fragrant citrus and coconut groves, and reading under the swaying tropical palms. New owners can also choose to build a golf course in their own tailor-made paradise.

Priced at US$26,000,000 (approx. HK$202,093,793). Visit here for more info.

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Leslie Yeh

7 Places in the World Where You Can Buy a ‘Free’ Home

Posted in What to Buy

Astute property watchers will remember the furore this May when the Sicilian municipality of Sambuca began auctioning abandoned homes at the starting price of €1 — essentially free. The initiative, geared towards resuscitating the town’s economy, resulted in a massive injection of foreign investment (a large number of Sambuca’s ‘free’ homes sold for as little as US$1,200, on the proviso that buyers spend US$17,000 on renovations over a 3-year period).
Given the success of that scheme, an increasing number of sleepy, rural hamlets (mostly in Italy) are trying to get a piece of the ‘free’ home action. But what’s the catch? Read on to find out…

Cumnock, Australia

Once an important stopover in the New South Wales railway network, Cumnock is about a 4-hour drive from Sydney. Over the years, the population has dwindled to fewer than 300 people, so in order to attract new residents the town is offering homes with ‘a typical Australian country feel’ for as little as US$1. Even a 3-bedroom house — complete with fireplaces and a palatial veranda — will only set you back US$100 a week.

Okutama, Japan

By now, rapid population ageing is a well-documented issue affecting multiple aspects of Japanese society — housing included. In order to attract younger residents back to the countryside, rural towns are allegedly giving away unoccupied properties. The most desirable of these ‘free-housing’ schemes is located in Okutama, a remote municipality that is in fact part of the western Tokyo Metropolis. Naturally, eligible properties here aren’t exactly free: families, whose children are under junior high school age, may only claim ownership pursuant to paying off a 22-year mortgage (totalling roughly US$120,621).

Monti Scìaga, Switzerland

Not content to let the Sicilians have all the fun, Monti Scìaga — a mountainous village bordering Italy and Switzerland — is currently selling its empty homes for the princely sum of one Swiss franc (US$1.01). Situated a stone’s throw from Lake Maggiore — the largest lake in southern Switzerland — and about 100 km from Milan, Monti Scìaga is among the most remote villages in the region. Not a bad spot if you’re looking for peace & quiet (in the middle of the Continent no less).

Mussomeli, Sicily

The runaway success of Sambuca’s dollar auctions meant it was only a matter of time before other Sicilian townships launched similar schemes. While all of them benefit from being able to offer housing in a temperate, serene environment, the city of Mussomeli has gone above and beyond with its very own online property listings. This freestanding, 70-sq.-mtr. house is in a style that’s fairly typical of the area — boasting a balcony and sufficient space for multiple bedrooms. Still, it goes without saying that a substantial restoration will be required, in order to account for the property’s lack of internal heating or electricals.

Patrica, Italy

Patrica, an ancient commune on the outskirts of Frosinone, is another of the small Italian towns which have recently joined project Case a 1 euro — one of the biggest nationwide efforts to combat rural depopulation. At 450m above sea level, the town’s biggest drawcard is its breathtaking views of the surrounding Valle Latina. Each of the 38 houses on offer overlooks the Sacco and Liri valleys: reason enough to pay the (approx.) US$28,000 renovation fee.

Sambuca, Sicily

The one that started it all: since mayor Giuseppe Cacioppo launched his pilot ‘free housing’ scheme in May, the quiet Sicilian hamlet of Sambuca has experienced nothing short of a revitalisation. Currently, 66 properties have already been sold to private owners including the Discovery Channel (who intend to document the progress of other foreign investors in the town next year).
New international arrivals aside, Sambuca possesses a host of features that make it a fantastic spot for an idyllic holiday home: Cuisine is influenced by Sicily’s long history of Greek and Arabic migration; the town boasts an enviable location near the coastline; and Mt. Etna looms majestically on the horizon.

Randy Lai

Dolce & Gabbana’s Luxury Sicilian Villa Can Be Yours for US$7.3 Million

Posted in Holiday Homes

Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana are selling more than fashion these days. The duo’s Sicilian seafront villa is now up for sale for the eye-popping price of US$7.3 million. The electric and bold glamour of the iconic Italian brand is seen throughout this luxurious property; located on the island of Stromboli, it sits spectacularly on a cliff overlooking the blue expanse of the Mediterranean Sea and a 3,000-foot-high, oft-erupting volcano.

The villa, which has been owned by the partners since the mid-1990s, was once the setting for lavish parties hosting several A-list celebrities, including Madonna and Naomi Campbell. Surprisingly, it’s deceptively modest with a rustic vibe from its whitewashed façade and straight lines.

Surrounded by expansive terraces and lush gardens and trees, the property invites you to bask in the tropical beauty of its environs. The interior, however, is where the creative aesthetics of Dolce & Gabbana make a dazzling statement. According to Lionel Luxury Real Estate, who is responsible for this listing, the villa “has been renovated according to the style and taste of the two designers, who have furnished it with the same love and passion that they put into designing their clothes.”

Comprising three traditional Aeolian cottages that have been merged into a single entity, the 5,383-square-foot house has seven suites and nine bathrooms. Each suite boasts a colour theme, from sunshine yellow and turquoise blue to candy pink and neon green. Adding to the mesmerising impact of these shades are furnishings that include “unique pieces and fabrics from the fashion house combined with local handmade pieces, colourful hand-painted majolica tiles and lace curtains creating a unique aesthetic,” as described by the agency.

The living and dining areas are equally imaginative, featuring ornate chandeliers that form the central piece of wildly colourful rooms with walls that are adorned with an eclectic selection of art and numerous gold-painted antique cherubs.

Perhaps appropriately, this highly evocative space was used as the setting for a 2015 Dolce & Gabbana commercial starring Colin Farrell, for one of their fragrances.

And while there’s been much speculation behind the duo’s decision to sell this amazing property, nothing has come to the fore. One can only wonder if their losses as a result of the controversy surrounding their misguided China-based campaigns last year have anything to do with it.

In the meantime, interested buyers can look forward to sitting on the villa’s vast terrace, sipping on a fruity beverage, as the soft sea breeze of weaves through the swaying trees.

Staff Writer