Before you plunk down 1 Euro to buy a house in Sicily, you should know that the idea to sell off these crumbling ruins was the brainchild of Oliviero Toscani, a marketing genius famous for his Benetton ad campaign. When announced by the mayor, it seemed like an innovative solution to rebuilding the town center, still in ruins from an earthquake in 1968. The first clue as to whether this project will come to quick fruition ought to be obvious here: 1968. It’s taken 40 years just to get to this point! Nonetheless, the 1 euro houses for sale in Sicily brought a flood of offers from would-be buyers, but the project is still stalled, as a multitude of other problems have come up, such as the lack of city sewer lines.
Before you consider buying and restoring a house in Italy, I recommend that you rent in the area first, to experience what it’s really like to live in a particular area of Italy. If you plan to live in Italy year round, you need to consider the climate and seasonal changes. The best views in Tuscany may be from a lofty hilltop that’s idyllic in summer, but winter will bring strong cold winds that rattle the terracotta roof tiles for days on end. Think of being driven mad like Van Gogh. Down in the valley an old mill house won’t be windy but it will be dark, moldy and subject to flooding (I lived in an old mill house and came to understand the true meaning of “going through the mill.”) In either case, you’ll stay fit by hauling wood to stoke up the wood stove to keep warm. If you smugly choose gas-fired radiators over a wood stove, you will simply go bankrupt.
In Sicily, if you choose a seaside villa, you’ll find vast seasonal differences in day to day life. The coast swarms with Italians in the hot summer with lots of restaurants and bars open late, while in winter coastal towns will be tightly shuttered and you’ll be alone with the seagulls looking for fresh fish.
If you crave the city life of art exhibits, theatre and shopping, then you may not adjust well to life in the Italian countryside where your nearest neighbors are sheep, and a night out is a walk to the garden gate to lock it.