This Coronavirus-Free Italian Town Is Selling Houses for $1

But you've gotta renovate it in three years.


Though large swaths of Italy were ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, one town has reportedly remained untouched by the virus: Cinquefrondi, located in the southern region of Calabria. Now that travel restrictions are easing across the globe, this coronavirus-free village is hoping to draw in home buyers with the lure of $1 houses. 

And while it might seem too good to be true, there's a reason for the deal: the town is hoping to reverse its depopulation problem, which began well before the pandemic, as people relocated for jobs. Mayor Michele Conia calls the program "Operation Beauty." 

"Finding new owners for the many abandoned houses we have is a key part of the Operation Beauty [mission] that I have launched to recover degraded, lost parts of town," Conia told CNN. "I grew up in Germany where my parents had migrated, then I came back to save my land. Too many people have fled from here over the decades, leaving behind empty houses. We can't succumb to resignation."

Conia admits the town needs a little love, but Cinquefrondi does boast a few niceties: the Aspromonte National Park and views of both the Ionian and Tyrrhenian coasts. Oh, and there's still that whole zero coronavirus cases thing. 

"We rise between the refreshing hills and two warm seas, a pristine river runs nearby and the beaches are just 15 minutes away by car," he added. "But a whole district of my town lies abandoned, with empty houses that are also unstable and risky." 

Of course, there is a caveat: you've gotta renovate your new Italian abode in three years. And while you'll only have to pay an annual policy insurance fee of €250 (about $281 USD) in that time, if you don't complete the reno on deadline, you'll face a €20,000 (about $22,522 USD) fine. But don't let that deter you. CNN reports that similar projects have been finished within a year or two. 

"We're just asking for some kind of certainty once a new buyer commits to the project. The policy fee is very low and the cost of a restyle here is within €10,000 to €20,000, given the dwellings are cozy [and] tiny," Conia said. 

So you want in? There are a dozen homes on the market currently, and Conia promises they have plenty of empty buildings available should they see the demand.


Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.