The Italian city of Sambuca in Sicily sells houses for a dollar
(CNN) – Looking for a dose of instant sunshine to help you through the winter? This last deal from Italy could just be the warm jolt of vitamin D you need.
From now on you can buy a house on the beautiful island of Sicily in the south of Italy for a lower price than Espresso.
Sambuca, a hill town overlooking the Mediterranean island and the nearby beaches, has put up dozens of apartments in the market for € 1 or just over a dollar.
The deal aims to revive a community that, like many other rural areas of Italy, has suffered depopulation in recent years as residents move to larger cities.
It's not the first Italian city to attract outsiders with tempting offers, but Sambuca, according to local authorities, is eliminating bureaucracy to make sure that anyone interested can make more or less their purchases.
"Unlike other cities that have only propagandised, this town hall owns every € 1
of houses for sale," says Giuseppe Cacioppo, vice-mayor and tourism councilor of Sambuca.
"We are not an intermediary connection between old and new owners." They want the house, they do not get time. "
City of Splendor
But there is a catch. The new owners must commit themselves to renew the selection of their 40 to 150 square meter apartments within 15,000 euros within three years.
You also need to save 5,000 euros deposit, which will be refunded once the restyle is completed.
Buyers will not be disappointed, says Cacioppo.
"Sambuca is known as a city of splendor," he adds. "This fertile piece of land is referred to as an earthly paradise, and we are in a nature reserve full of history, with beautiful beaches, forests and mountains surrounding us, quiet and peaceful, an idyllic retreat for a detox stay."
With the population dwindling, Cacioppo says the city needs outsiders to prevent it from falling into ruin.
"We can not afford to lose our beautiful Arab heritage, fortunately foreigners help with this rescue crusade."
Sambuca was founded by the ancient Greeks and later conquered by Saracens, which made it a thriving commercial center.
The city was named after the Emir Al Zabut, aka Splendid One. It is an open-air museum, a patchwork of contrasting architectural styles.
Churches with round, Arabic-looking cupolas are located next to baroque palaces with glazed tiled floors adorned with smiling little angels, fearsome gargoyles, twisted columns, allegorical statues and coats.
This is Sicily's Arabian soul. Most houses for sale are located in the "Saracen District", a Kasbah labyrinth of arcaded stone portals and winding narrow streets (less than a meter wide), through which the people press.
The landscape around Sambuca is full of ancient ruins.
The two-storey Moorish houses, built of pink-reddish stones glowing at sunset, have patios, lush palm-lined gardens with orange and tangerine trees, arcade entrances, flowery majolica staircases, typical Sicilian tiled roofs and terraces overlooking the breathtaking landscape.
On clear days you can see the mountain of Sicily. The Etna volcano and the distant island of Pantelleria are situated on the Belvedere terrace, where once upon a time Al Zabut's magnificent palace stood as the "guardian of the valley".
The heritage of Zabut is strong. Streets and native names sound Arabic. There are couscous cooking classes and Moorish costume parties.
Sambuca's charm also lies beneath the earth, in its "sunken city" Cacioppo organizes guided tours through the labyrinth of the Purrere, the holes and caves of ancient sandstone quarries. Most houses have private access to the grotto.
The spirits of the Saracen soldiers slaughtered by the Christians are said to haunt the caves and the district at night – there is even a street called The Phantom – but so far there have been no scary sightings.
There was interest in the city, says Cacioppo.
"Foreigners flock here, stunned by all this beauty," he says. "About ten houses have already been sold and dozens more are available but in desperate need of refurbishment, we were contacted by people from Switzerland, France and Spain and received many requests."
He hopes that newcomers will help revitalize the city, boost the local economy, and preserve the architectural gems.
However, this requires some work. The abandoned houses are full of quarries and forgotten furniture covered with cobwebs.
& # 39; Special place & # 39;
The deputy mayor of the city says Sambuca is an "idyllic retreat".
Courtesy of Franco Alloro
Susanna Heinson from Germany has already bought a house and is restoring it and wants to move in.
"I can not wait to spend the summer in Sambuca," she says. "It's a beautiful, special place, people are very open-minded and friendly, good restaurants, great wineries, we feel at home."
She is happy that the recovery of the Saracen neighborhood will help to preserve the original face of Sicily and feels "proud to be a part of it."
The revival is already underway.
Sambuca was nominated for Italy's 2016 Most Beautiful Towns Contest and plans are underway to open a "diffuse", scattered hotel to allow new arrivals to experience the fascination of mingling with village life and joining in with the locals mix.
Sambuca Prime location is one of the biggest selling points.
The landscape is dotted with ruins of pagan temples and Arab lookout towers. Trekking routes lead to the rocky summit of nearby Genuardo Mountain and its Greek necropolis of Adranon, a hotspot for mushroom hunting.
The fascinating archaeological site of Selinunte and the Valley of the Temples are just a stone's throw away.
Food and wine
Sambuca's architecture is a patchwork of Arabic and Baroque styles.
Courtesy Proloco / Cacioppo
And then there's the wine. Produced since the time of the ancient Greeks in the area, Sambuca now has extensive vineyards stretching to the sea.
This was the beginning of the renaissance of the Sicilian elite wine.
Niche red vines – mainly Nero d & # 39; Avola – are grown in wineries around Lago Arancio, an artificial lake where occasionally low water levels uncover the ruins of an Arab fortress in summer.
Non-local grapes such as Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay have recently been planted to export premium bottles worldwide.
Since it is Italy, the local cuisine attracts the charm. Everyone who stays here should be ready to stretch their waists.
Sambuca is called "Sicily's barn" because of its huge grain production.
In old millstones bread and pasta are made according to traditional methods and old Sarazen black wheat varieties, eg. B. Tumminia with sweet taste.
Typical dishes include busiate short noodles with Qualeddu (a wild large, yellow leaf flower), sausage and breadcrumbs and Macco di Fave dried bean soup with wild fennel.
Cucciddatu is a donut with pepper, cheese and sausages.
Omelettes with grandma grandmothers consist of blue borage flowers and lemons.
Vastedda is a special cream cheese made from sheep's milk, flat as a pizza.
The sweet teeth can treat themselves to almond cupcakes and assateddi fried sweet ricotta filled ravioli with sugar sprinkled.
"Imagine having breakfast with one of these cakes every morning: who would not drool at the simple thought?" says Cacioppo.
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