If you watched the second season of Master of None and promptly dreamt of devouring homemade pasta and thriving in the Italian countryside, then dream no more. The president of Molise, a duel mountainside and coastal-hugging region east of Rome, wants to invite you to come live there. An added perk? He wants you to open up your own business, and will give you $27,000 to do it.
“If we had offered funding, it would have been yet another charity gesture,” the President Donato Toma, said to in a report by the The Guardian. “We wanted to do more; we wanted people to invest here. They can open any sort of activity: a bread shop, a stationery shop, a restaurant, anything. It’s a way to breathe life into our towns while also increasing the population.”
The offer comes on the heels of a dwindling population in Italy, where young people have immigrated to other European nations in search of job opportunities, and where birthrates are at an all-time low. Molise, a region that covers over 1,700 square miles, has a little over 300,000 citizens -- and the numbers are decreasing. In fact, there wasn't a single recored birth in the region in all of 2018, according to the paper.
It's not the first time an Italian town has offered money in exchange for uprooting your life and moving there. Some villages have fewer than 2,000 people, which is where the desire to add new resources, businesses, and, you know, people comes in. “It’s not just a matter of increasing the population. People also need infrastructure and a reason to stay, otherwise we’ll end up back where we started in a few years,” Toma said.
"We need to safeguard our roots," Antonio Tedeschi, the regional councilor who came up with the idea to fund newcomers, added to CNN Travel. Tedeschi adds that he wants the region he grew up in to "undergo a renaissance and avoid its authentic villages turning into ghost towns."
The Italian region is specifically looking to entice young people or couples with small children, in hopes of reversing the population decline, but they're open to anyone wanting a change of scenery who may find it in Molise. To qualify for the $27,000, applicants must choose to live in a town with fewer than 2,000 citizens and must vow to open some sort of business.
You never know; perhaps your pipe dream coffee shop can become a reality here, or you can give up your corporate gig to bake bread, drink wine, and open an art gallery. Whatever your fantasies of being a business-owner and your own boss may be, the application for the $27,000 grant is set to open on September 16. Don't let your Italian countryside dreams remain dreams.