*excerpt: A beautiful town in Sicily has become the latest in a growing trend in Italy to see its abandoned homes auctioned off for €1 each to reverse the trend of depopulation. Picturesque Salemi will sell off some of its dilapidated properties for a pittance in a bid to bring people back to the town. It has seen its population shrink considerably over the last 50 years, after at least 4,000 residents fled following the 1968 earthquake in Sicily's Belice Valley. Town mayor Domenico Venuti told CNN: 'All buildings belong to the city council, which speeds up the sale and reduces red tape. 'Before launching the scheme we first had to recover the old parts of Salemi where the houses are located, upgrading infrastructures and services from roads to electric grids and sewage pipes. 'Now the town is ready for the next step.' Salemi is by no means the first town in southern Italy to trial the one-euro-home project, with Cinquefrondi in Calabria doing the same thing in July and Mussomeli and Bivona, both in Sicily, trying it last year. But Salemi officials were among the first to suggest the idea of selling houses for next to nothing. Mr Venuti said the project could not be signed off on time because of bureaucratic issues and the need to give some of the properties a makeover first. Maintenance work was needed on risky crumbly areas of the town and the coronavirus pandemic also delayed the project. Italy was one of the countries worst hit by Covid-19 earlier this year but Sicily was one of the least impacted areas in the country. Salemi currently has around 30 reported cases within its 10,971 population but Mr Venuti insisted that now was the right time to move forward with the project, despite some resident's concerns about the spread. Houses will go up on sale at a starting price of €1 (£0.91) each and sold to the highest bidder, in the same way the Sicilian town of Sambuca did last year. They are located in the town's historic city centre enclosed by the ancient town walls and date back to the 1600s. All have multiple floors and thick walls, while a few have panoramic balconies and those on Belvedere Street, overlooking a green valley, are considered the most attractive. The town's main piazza is a crumbled church, with the ruins of its stone apse still standing after the 1968 earthquake which killed at least 231 people in the region. The houses are made from a yellowish-pink solid sandstone extracted from nearby caves called 'campanedda' or 'bell' in local dialect, named after the noise it makes when hit with a hammer. Rural families in medieval times would sleep in the upper floors of the buildings, while their animals would live in the floors below. The town is located at an altitude of 450 meters above sea level, meaning it is cooler than much of Sicily during the island's notoriously hot summers. Potential buyers are not required to visit Salemi before making an offer, according to Mr Venuti, but they are required to send a detailed restyle plan to demonstrate their commitment to the project. He said there are at least another 100 dwellings in the town that could potentially be sold after this first lot. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8883347/Beautiful-Sicilian-town-latest-Italy-auction-abandoned-houses-1-each.html
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