Italy dangles up to US$32,000 to lure people to settle in rural Tuscany

Imagine waking up each morning to a view of the Tuscan countryside, making your home in the romantic Italian region known for its dry red wine, medieval architecture, and groves of olive trees.

Now imagine getting paid to do it.

Tuscan officials launched a new “Residency in the Mountains” programme in June. The programme created a €2,800,000 (US$3,001,740) fund to encourage people to move to the rural countryside.

The fund, part of an effort to stabilise the country’s dwindling population, will pay people grants ranging from €10,000 to €30,000 (US$10,720 to US$32,161) to move to Tuscany and fix up a home there.

“The purpose of the intervention is to favour and encourage the repopulation and socio-economic revitalisation of mountain areas, acting in contrast to the marginalisation of these areas,” the programme’s website states.

The grants will pay 50 per cent of the costs of renovations of a home in one of 76 Tuscan cities with fewer than 5,000 residents – including San Casciano dei Bagni, known for its thermal pools; Caprese Michelangelo, the birthplace of the renaissance artist of the same name; and the island of Capraia Isola.

The programme is open to Italians, EU residents, and non-EU citizens – so long as they have established long-term residency lasting no less than 10 years. Eligible applicants must commit to making the Tuscan property their primary home.

Applications for the programme close on July 27.

Representatives for the Public Relations Office of Tuscany did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

Italy has for years experimented with various schemes to attract new residents to its rural regions. The country, which has Europe’s smallest share of children under the age of 15, faces a population crisis so significant that nearly 2,500 towns are on the verge of collapse and will not survive more than 25 years, according to a 2016 study released by Italy’s Ministry of Environment.

CNN reported last year that there are more than 6,000 ghost villages around the country, left deserted due to migration and natural disasters.

In response, in 2018, new residents in Molise were offered US$27,500 to move to the abandoned towns of the mountainous region on the country’s eastern coast. The following year, officials in the town of Ollolai put 200 homes on the market for €1 (US$1.25) each to avoid the same fate.

Sicily likewise went viral for offering US$1 homes for sale, which, despite their desperate need for repair, attracted swarms of expats who flocked to the country to snap up one of the abandoned properties.

Business Insider previously reported that in Sicily, there were time limits for repairs to be completed, officials required buyers to work with specific contractors to finish the work, and renovations cost upwards of US$30,000 to complete – but some buyers found it was worth every penny.

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