My mind was racing as I walked out of the office for the final time on Thursday 3 October 2019. I was leaving London and a job that I loved to start a new life in a small town in Sicily and to renovate a house I’d bought for the tiny sum of one euro. Less than the cost of an espresso! I have had a long-standing love affair with Italy, having spent years travelling back and forth as a volunteer and mentor at a drug rehabilitation community called San Patrignano. It's always been a dream of mine to relocate to Italy and when the opportunity presented itself to meet with the agency that was selling the abandoned houses for one euro, I booked myself a flight to Sicily.
I will always remember my first impression of the town called Mussomeli where the houses were being sold. As I drove through its narrow, winding streets I discovered a total ghost town, most of the old houses in ruin and hardly a soul in sight. I could see immediately why houses were going so cheap. Like so many other towns and villages across Italy, young people were leaving in their droves, seeking work opportunities in other countries. These once thriving towns were emptying out, businesses closing, daily markets diminishing and communities crumbling.
Closing my eyes, I imagined the Mussomeli of old, the daily hustle of traders, youngsters hanging out in bars, old men drinking coffee on terraces, but these images were far from reality. I got out of my car and walked into the town square. It was so sad as there was hardly a soul in site and my heart sank as I really could not imagine myself living in this town. I am the eternal optimist though so I put my feelings aside and walked to meet the agents to view the houses.
My hosts were kind and accommodating and I did my best to hide my disappointment as I entered the first five houses, each one in complete ruin, some just a pile of rubble and one home to a messy rabble of pigeons. My dreams of building a house in Italy were crumbling as I viewed house after house that was just an empty shell. Just when I was about to give up hope my host mentioned that there was one last house that she would like to show me and as I rounded the corner to view this place I knew in my heart that this was the one.
Immediately on entering the house I could see myself living there and my spirits lifted as the house did not appear to need any major renovation. In fact everything was in tact, including beds that had been made and table settings, it looked as though someone walked out of the house in the morning and never returned. So that was it really, I signed the necessary paperwork and paid the legal fees and the house was mine. This is where the real story begins my friends because I am about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime renovating the house and starting a new life in Sicily.
Ever thought about living the Italian dream and buying your own one euro house? Find out more information here.