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Free houses on offer in Sicily as town gets desperate to lure new residents

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As with all such schemes, there’s a catch. Foreigners and Italians wishing to get hold of one of Cammarata’s dozen or so free homes must commit to renovating their new house fully within three years, and must pay the town a deposit of €5,000 ($8,080) to secure the property.

That deposit will be returned once renovations are finished, CNN reported. Additionally, buyers must present a proposal of how they plan to refurbish the house.

There are some incentives, however, with Cammarata’s mayor saying that the town will give precedence to young couples when selecting who gets the free homes, and saying that any couple who has a baby in the first years of living in the town will be given €1,000 ($US1,120).

While the plans sound immensely attractive on paper, living in Cammarata is not without its challenges.

In July, Insider’s Tom Murray visited Cammarata during a trip to explore the $US1 home phenomenon, and found a town that had been abandoned by many young Sicilians because of its mountainous location and narrow, winding streets.

According to town councilors, Murray wrote: “Many young people, especially with families, were deterred from living in the town because of the tiny, winding roads, which were nigh on impossible to get a car around. Instead, they lived in the neighbouring San Giovanni Gemini.”

Mayor Giambrone, however, stressed to CNN that the town is ready to welcome new homeowners with open arms.

“Visitors and guests come first, even before our own family. Newcomers trigger change, innovation, new ideas. They revamp the local economy and can kick start a revolution,” he said.

“A local proverb goes ‘a tavula è na trazzera’, meaning the table is a sheep trail where all wayfarers are welcome to sit and enjoy the great food.”

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