Caprarica di Lecce is a town and commune in the Apulia region of South-East Italy. I first noticed this town offering €1 houses back in 2018, it was one of the first towns that I researched. It is certainly a historic town, the poet Antonio Verri was born there in 1949. I liked the location – right at the bottom of Italy in the “heel” so the weather would be very hot in the summer months, with mild winters.
Due to depopulation the commune decided to roll out a scheme to attract families with children. So, with many derelict, empty houses they would offer the properties to families that will settle in the town for a symbolic €1. The “twist” is that the new occupiers would not own the house, just have the right to live there for 20 years and then the dwelling would revert back to the original owner. But the new occupier would need to renovate or make the house habitable.
For many this scheme would not be very attractive as you could spend a lot of cash on the property, but it is never yours and there is no guarantee you can still live there after 20 years. For me, I wasn’t really put off by this so I added the town to my list to visit in 2019.
I sent a couple of emails to the Commune requesting information but never received anything back. After 2 months in Greece, I was back in southern Italy by the end of July 2019 and worked out I could visit the town on 24th July 2019. I sent another email on the 23rd July just to see if I could arrange to view a house.
I arrived in the town on 24th as planned and set about exploring. I found a delightful family run pizzeria/trattoria and a small bar that was popular with the locals. I noticed many of the streets were quite narrow and there did seem to be many empty older houses. There were a few ‘ruins’, houses that had started to crumble and would be a serious (and expensive) restoration project. The town did have a great ‘feel’ to it, I loved some of the old architecture.
I found the town hall and decided to see if anyone was available. I walked in and walked around the whole building. But nobody was in. I went next to the tourist information office which was situated in a very historic building, and the same thing, nobody at home!
The lesson I learnt from this visit is: don’t expect anything to be open or don’t expect to meet any one from the middle of July to the end of August in Italy – I think most people are on holiday/away from the office. Another lesson learned is don’t drive a large motor home into the centre of some of these small towns – I nearly got stuck between two buildings down a narrow street, it was very close!
I left the town mid-afternoon and did get a short email from the commune later that day with a mobile number to ring, but the number kept coming up as not-in-service!
I returned to the area near Caprarica di Lecce in August and again sent an email asking if it would be possible to view any of the €1 houses, but never received a reply.
So, another disappointment in my quest to get a €1 house. By now I was finding the whole experience frustrating, despite spending nearly 2 months in Italy I was no closer to getting a €1 house than I had been earlier in the year. My advice is if you are serious about getting a house in Italy for €1, get used to not getting replies to your emails and also just visiting the town hoping to meet someone can be a lost cause!
On a positive note, it was intriguing to see these towns and their location. I was actually starting to fall in love with Italy, making me more determined to eventually own a €1 house