(CNN) – When Italian towns began offering homes for less than $ 1, they incited forces of dreamers to go gambling to a remote corner of Italy.
Although spending a few thousand dollars to restore the property is usually part of the deal, it is possible to find new life in a beautiful place in a beautiful country.
And then the coronavirus struck and the world was thrown into turmoil, and Italy was among the worst affected countries.
What happens when you are detained in a broken home in a remote village, where you do not speak the language and cannot come home to your loved ones. Will life quickly turn into a nightmare?
Perhaps looking at the aftermath of the surprise, the answer is no.
CNN has spoken to a few people who have bought some Italian homes that are cheaply offered by towns that want to reverse the declining demographic trends.
We have found that they are enthusiastic and eager to complete the renovation of their property and make their Italian dream come true.
While events may be unexpected, being stuck in Italy is not a bad experience.
And the virus crisis has made Italy’s rural villages more and more appreciated – so much so that some are looking to invest in more affordable assets.
Mussomeli is located on a hill in Sicily.
Salvatore Catalano, Commune Mussolemy
Miami-based artist Alvaro Solarzano is currently stranded on the southern island of Mussomeli, where he bought two cheap properties last year – one for just a euro or a dollar more.
In March he began renovating homes with his wife, son and son’s girlfriend. The other three returned to Miami and Solarzano was to follow them a few weeks later, but his flight was later canceled.
“I missed the time. We came here and I spent the quarantine on Mussomeli himself, just bed and TV with no furniture, and no one was talking,” he told CNN. “That’s the hardest thing. If my wife or son were with me, it would have been different.”
One of the hallmarks of Solorzano in Mussomeli.
Solorzano was staying in a B&B, but when it was closed due to the Covid-19 restrictions, he had to move to the lesser of two of his properties, which were just livable.
Since then, he has been spending time watching TV, learning Italian, going to the supermarket (“the best part of the day”) and talking to his family on the phone. In a short time, he is making good use of the situation by repairing and painting the walls of the house.
“I did a lot of small things but it helped me use the time so my son and his girlfriend would be ready for their home when they return,” he says. “Fortunately the hardware store in town is always open and we are very happy to have bought two properties and not just a euro house. It has no water or electricity.”
Alvaro Solarzano, of Miami, said local residents have turned his compelling stay in Mussomeli into a pleasant experience.
Maurizio de Maria, Commune Mussomeli
Despite the initial hardship, his new neighbors helped him with the fire, he said.
“The first two nights were terrible,” he says. “It was cold. I slept with a jacket on top of my pajamas, but then the neighbors were great. I can’t complain. They gave me heaters and blankets, which I have, but I can use their internet.”
“They kept checking me out. They brought me tons of food for Easter. It took me three days to eat. I don’t know what I would do without them.”
Solorzano was brought by his neighbors Easter cakes.
Surrounded by honeysuckle and eucalyptus trees, Mussomeli is one of Italy’s most breathtaking castles, known as the Enchanted Castle, which sticks like a spider on a pointed rock.
The fertile green farmland is full of traces of old sulfur mines, sanctuaries, Roman necropolises and primitive settlements.
The town’s name in Latin means “Hill of Honey”.
But the sweetest attractions of the place to Solorzano are its welcoming residents.
“They’re amazing. I know everyone’s name,” he says. “Mario is the one who distributes the bread. I have no words to describe how grateful I am to have them and how I can repay them for what they did.”
At first, the stringent sanctions in Italy relaxed, allowing him to walk around, but he agreed because there was nothing to be done at first. “It was horrible. I felt at home. Sometimes I felt like I was in prison.”
The realm of property
Solorzano said he now knows everyone by name.
Now he can chat with the locals and get to Mussomeli’s viewpoint, where he can sit on a bench and enjoy the fresh air and mountain views.
As a painter, Solarzano said he liked doing some artwork, but due to a lockdown he couldn’t find a pallet or canvas.
Solarzano wants to buy another property in Mussomeli.
Maurizio de Maria, Commune Mussomeli
“I’m struggling to get back home, but the flight I recently booked has been canceled, so I don’t know when I’ll be back in the States,” he said. “I want to come back before Father’s Day in June. I’ve already missed a lot of celebrations with my family.”
Solorzano’s Sicilian quarantine makes him love Mussomeli even more. Instead of killing enthusiasm for his one euro house adventure, the desire to buy a third abandoned building was fueled.
“I love this town and the people. Even if they don’t know you, they will help you. It’s like being in another world. You don’t get it in the States.”
Stuck in Tuscany
Brazilian Douglas Roque, pictured here with his cousin during an Italian lockdown, was stranded in Tuscany.
Brazilian businessman Douglas Roque is another dilapidated home buyer whose enthusiasm for starting a new life has not been diminished by the coronavirus.
Rossi is based in Fabriche de Vergemoli in Tuscany, overseeing the restoration of a Euro Farm residence when the lockdown struck and the flight back home was canceled.
Accompanied by his Brazilian-Italian friend Alberto da Leo from S పాo Paulo, the two were in town to oversee the purchase of an abandoned area entirely for other Brazilian buyers.
If they can’t stay at Da Leo’s family home near Venice, the hotels in Vergemoli are closed and completely uninhabitable, and they can’t go anywhere, Roque said.
Roque, on the right, is pictured here with Fabriche de Vergermoly Mayor, Michelle Giannini.
Fabriche de Vergemoli is a group of hamlets scattered across a UNESCO-listed protected forest. The area is full of ruins of habitat of miners occupied by vegetation. Most areas can only be reached on foot.
Rogue’s ruined three-story farmhouse with checkout cellars and forgotten old wine barrels is located in the vicinity of Dogana, where a pristine stream runs beneath an ancient, picturesque bridge.
“I was going to start the restoration, and then everything was blocked,” Roque said. “It was horrible. Our return flight was canceled and we had problems with the Brazilian Consulate.
“I came here in February to rebuild my home. The paperwork was all over. I was ready to go but didn’t go through with it. And my family is in Brazil, where virus cases are on the rise. I worry for them and they worry for me.”
Part of perfection
Roque is trying to buy other homes in the villages for fellow Brazilians.
Douglas Roque with courtesy
The two friends also had to deal with the long-term consequences: credit card monthly restrictions and the downside of seasonal clothing changes, and now it’s almost spring (fortunately, they found some mild guffaws at Da Leos).
As he awaits the start of a global air traffic reunion, Italian officials are anxious to step back in the Rose Vergemoli as soon as the sanctions are lifted – a move expected in early June.
“At this time I am trying to work on my project online, contacting construction companies and other Brazilian buyers, friends and relatives who are interested in buying property in Virgimoly but who are not traveling now.
Roque said he chose Vergemoli from all over Italy to buy a euro home because, despite all this, it remains a dream destination.
“Tuscany is a wonderful area and close to major historical and artistic cities. It’s the perfect location.”