This Italian city is selling homes for €1

A city has become the first in Italy to join a scheme offering homes for just €1.

Taranto, a coastal city in the south that sits on the western edge of Italy’s “boot” heel, has joined the ranks of villages that have already signed up to the initiative in a bid to boost dwindling rural populations.

However, unlike the other participants, Taranto is far from a remote idyll: the city is home to a heavily polluting steel plant, called Ilva, reports the Local.

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It does have some of the same issues as the villages that have taken part, with a population in the historic centre that has plummeted from around 40,000 in the 19th century to 3,000 today.

The eventual aim is to rejuvenate the city with 25,000 new residents in the old town.

“We’re aiming to take measures which will result in the repopulation and development of the old city,” the councillor for heritage and housing policies, Francesca Viggiano, told Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera.

The key to the city’s rebirth is the historic centre, says Ms Viggiano: “It is the nucleus from which Taranto must start again. We no longer want the city to be associated only with Ilva, but to have an alternative development.”

The old part of the city is set on its own island, connected to the mainland by two bridges on either side.

Comprised of a series of narrow alleyways, it’s also home to an Aragonese Castle, the Town Hall and the Cathedral of San Cataldo.

While it has previously been lacking in investment, the historic centre has recently been granted a cash injection of €90m to transform the waterfront and update key infrastructure, such as the crumbling sewage system.

The city will initially put three buildings – which together comprise 15 housing units – up for sale for the symbolic price of €1 each.

Those considering buying one must have enough money to renovate the neglected building, with costs potentially totalling €300,000-€800,000 depending on the size of the property and amount of work needed.

The city also stipulates that buyers must live there themselves after works are completed, or at least use the property as a holiday home.

If the first batch of homes is successful, more will be put up for sale in due course – there are around 1,300 on the island.

Interest has already come from as far afield as New York, Milan and Rome, according to Ms Viggiano.

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