(CNN) — There is a place on the Italian island of Sicily where you increasingly hear an American accent wafting through its narrow streets instead of the local language.
With a reputation as one of the first places in the country to sell old houses for next to nothing, Sambuca di Sicilia is becoming something of Italy’s “Little America” after a wave of mostly Americans entered the country to snap up properties at favorable price. and breathe new life into the city.
By the time the second application deadline expired last November, City Hall was once again inundated with hundreds of inquiries from interested buyers. The houses were eventually auctioned off to the highest bidder, with prices ranging from €500 to €7,000 ($540 to $7,560).
According to Deputy Mayor Giuseppe Cacioppo, almost all of the new buyers are from North America. Some bought their plot of the house discreetly, while others defied Covid travel restrictions and flew in to take a look.
“Let’s say that almost 80% of the people who wrote to us, applied for and participated in the second auction came from either the States or America,” Cacioppo says. “American buyers are showing great interest, and, fortunately, it is not abating. The pandemic has made this new sale more difficult, but we were lucky. Everything went well”.
So what motivated these new buyers to buy earthquake-hit property in the heart of Sicily? Surprisingly, many, apparently, did not just want to buy a vacation at a reduced price. They also want to help revive the buzz of the village and its economy.
“I give it away”
David Waters says he will use crowdsourcing to fund the renovation.
Contributed by David Waters
David Waters, an Idaho internet businessman with a passion for Italian real estate, plans to refurbish his newly purchased Sicilian home through crowdfunding and then give it away.
He bought two adjacent buildings with a winning bid of €500 each. They are located in the quietest corner of Sambuca, in an ancient area where abandoned houses line the streets.
Waters describes himself as a fan of Italy’s one-euro home project and says he wants to do his part to renovate dying, abandoned communities.
“I wanted to create an opportunity for new investors to support small communities like Sambuca in Sicily,” he says. “I want to give an opportunity to those who want to realize their dream of becoming the owner of a piece of Italian history.”
Waters says his crowdfunding campaign will offer reward levels ranging from merchandise to overnight stays in a finished home for those looking to support the local community.
“I bought two properties so I could start with a small crowdfunding campaign and scale it up to a bigger goal.”
He says donations and services will be offered to improve Sambuca Park, roads and infrastructure.
“We are going to engage the crowdfunding community as much as possible by giving them the right to vote on what we offer as part of these community services,” says Waters.
Crowdfunders will participate in the renovations and will also receive ticket codes for a chance to win his Sambuca property, depending on which tier they choose to participate in.
Prizes will be received before the property is awarded to the winner of the draw, who will be randomly selected by computer.
Although his two-story houses are in need of a major overhaul, Waters says he was fascinated by their location and view, and wants to show people how such dilapidated houses can be turned into “something magnificent and great.”
One house is tiny, while the neighboring house of 80 square meters has seven rooms.
this is Love
The allure of Italian cuisine is what prompted Arizona chef Daniel Patino, co-founder of a U.S. fresh food chain, to take a big step forward and snatch a piece of the sweet life.
Patino bought the only available building with three floors and a panoramic terrace, betting only 2,500 euros and winning. He did all this remotely, from the USA. A local Sambuca woman contacted him through the town hall and sent him videos and photos of the property, which were enough to give Patino an idea of what he was up to.
“It’s more than an adventure,” he says. “Maybe a prank?
“I placed a bet without seeing it after looking at all the properties online, but this one in particular just spoke to me. It had a small rustic patio outside. I couldn’t see what was inside because it could be dangerous to walk. , so I think it will take quite a bit of refurbishment.”
Patino does not yet know what exactly he plans to do with it – whether to use it simply as a vacation home or as an Italian branch of his food web. So far, according to him, it’s just a dream come true, as well as a walk down memory lane.
“I’ve always loved Italy, when I traveled early in my career as a professional chef, I discovered Italy’s food culture and why food is so important to Italians.”
“I also learned what the Italian way of life is. It’s about living life, not driving a hundred miles an hour like we do in the States. all worlds.”
Patino says his wife wasn’t on board at first, telling him, “You’re crazy, that can’t be true.”
Now that the property is his, he says he’ll just see where she goes next.
He might decide to start making some of his fresh sambuca salads and adapt American-style healthy food and homemade dressings to the antipasto alla siciliana.
A safe haven for artists
Brigitte Dufour wants to turn two abandoned buildings into an artist’s haven.
Contributed by Brigitte Dufour
Brigitte Dufour, a French-Canadian lawyer and founder of a human rights organization, bought two abandoned houses in the Saracens historic district – a small one for 1,000 euros and a larger house for 5,850 euros. She made both bets, seeing neither.
“To be sure, I knew there was a lot of competition, so I thought that placing a bet on two different houses would increase my chances of success,” she says.
Dufour says he wants to help the local community by offering space to artists from around the world fleeing the crisis.
Her smaller two-story, 50-square-meter (about 540-square-foot) house will serve as the artist’s residence, she said. It will be a place where artists can express themselves and “take a break from the complex environment and pressures in their countries.”
“They can stay for two weeks or a whole month and be inspired by the beauty of Sicily and sambuca to create works of art that speak to gender issues, dignity and human rights. It will be good for them to use a nice safe place.”
The property is in good condition with a terrace providing outside space with views of the surrounding green hills. Dufour likes the floors covered in antique majolica tiles, which she says give the house a traditional feel. She even found an old garlic scythe hanging from the wall when she bought this place.
Dufour says the property she bought is in good condition.
Contributed by Brigitte Dufour
“It’s even better than I expected, not ruins,” she says. “Everyone was telling me, ‘Oh, but you’re going to get busted.’ Instead, it has good walls, but needs some repairs.”
Dufour is planning an eco-friendly renovation and will seek advice from €1 home buyers who have already remodeled their homes.
Her second property of 80 square meters (about 860 square feet) will serve as both a private residence and additional space for new artists.
“I thought it was better to have more than one house to attract more artists, but then when I visited Sambuca after I won the tenders, I fell in love with the village and thought that I could keep this second home for myself and my family.
“My kids and my family in Canada, especially my siblings, are very excited about this,” says Dufour, who especially likes that the beach is a 25-minute drive from Sambuca.
If the artists’ residence needs more space, it will use parts of the second house for this, and will also receive artists, if necessary, after it has been renovated.
The second house has a huge open space that she says is perfect for social events and exhibitions, with vaulted ceilings and great views. Unlike the first floor, the second level needs a major overhaul.
“I couldn’t see it because it was dangerous to walk around the rooms,” she says. “It wasn’t clear how durable the floor was. But you can really feel the place.”