Italian town offers new residents $10,000 to relocate & have a baby

An Italian town with a dwindling population is offering new residents $10,000 (about N3.6 million) to relocate and have a baby.

The mayor of Locana in the north west of Italy is offering the cash in order to attract more families back to the shrinking community.

Anyone wanting to relocate to the picturesque Alpine commune in the mountainous Piedmont region could be paid up to $10,000 (€9,000) over three years to make Locana their home.

Giovanni Bruno Mattiet, Locana’s mayor, has made the offer in the hope of reversing the exodus of residents leaving the beleaguered hamlet and save the community from dying out.

He first appealed to Italians or foreigners already living in Italy but after a disappointing response is now extending it to non-Italians living abroad as well.

As the number of young couples and children has decreased, the community has seen shops, restaurants and amenities shut and its only school is facing closure.

In the early 1900s over 7,000 residents lived in Locana, but that figure has shrunk to less than 1,500 today.

Last year there were 40 deaths in the town but just 10 births, with a similar ratio in previous years.

Another Piedmont town also trying to draw in new residents is offering to give $1,144 (€1,000) to anyone who has a baby there, and another $2,288 (€2,000) to anyone willing to start and register a business.

Borgomezzavalle on the Italian/Swiss border is also offering abandoned cottages, barns and stables for just €1, which is 87p, and the crumbling buildings have to be refurbished within two years.

The picturesque Sicilian village of Sambuca is also offering properties for less than 90p, with the caveat that prospective buyers have three years to refurbish the homes.

Sambuca, which was named Italy’s most beautiful village in 2016, has been suffering from depopulation, with several homes in the village left empty.

Locana mayor, Mr Mattiet, told CNN: ‘People left looking for a job at Turin’s big factories. Our school each year faces the risk of shutting down due to few pupils. I can’t allow this to happen.

‘We’re looking to draw mostly young people and professionals who work remotely or are willing to start an activity here.

‘There are dozens of closed shops, bars, restaurants and boutiques just waiting for new people to run them.

‘Locana offers a healthy lifestyle, great food and folklore fairs all-year round.’

Locana’s territory spreads across 51 square miles (132sq km) in the snowy peaks of the Gran Paradiso mountain reserve, offering fresh air and outdoor activities like ice-skating fishing, trekking, rock climbing, swimming, soccer and tennis.

Houses in the stunning mountain town are made of stone and wood with typical pointed tile roofs and frescoed walls covered with flowers.

Old bridges cross clear streams as the valleys and chestnut forests, solitary chapels, abandoned lodges, crumbling dairy farms, mills and copper mines in need of refurbishment.

Although the town is small, it makes a lot of money by selling hydroelectric energy back to the Italian state.

Two tiny nearby ‘ghost hamlets’ are also accessible by foot only on mule paths covered by overgrown cherry shrubs from Locana.

Low taxes, great quality of life, cheap services and rentals have turned many dying areas into havens for foreign retirees.

In the Sicilian towns of Partanna, Caltabellotta, Giuliana, Siculiana and Cianciana renting a 50-square-meter apartment costs just $172 (€150) per month.

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