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Cash for babies, $10,000 gifts, $1 homes: The battle for the soul of rural Italy

(CNN) — Tempted by the recent offer of an Italian home for just over a $1? Well, you might want to hold out for a better deal. Now one town in the country is offering foreigners $10,000 to move there. Another says it will even pay newcomers more than $1,000 per child to make babies.

The deals may seem too good to be true for many who dream of escaping the rat race for the idyll of a rustic Italian village. For the destinations involved, they represent a last-ditch battle to save the souls of their dying communities.

Silvia Marchetti | | 26.01.2019

In just over a year Ollolai, on the island of Sardinia, has sold several dozen €1 houses that have already been refurbished. Six are currently being restyled while another 20 will soon be handed over to new owners.

Foreign newcomers are mostly young professionals who work remotely or retirees, but there are also Italians who have returned to their hometowns.

"We weren't expecting such a success, with people coming from Europe, the US, Brazil and Australia as our new next door neighbors", says Ollolai's deputy mayor Michele Cadeddu.

Fashion designer Marije Graafsma, who sold her home in the most northerly part of the Netherlands to relocate to Ollolai together with her partner, is enthusiastic about the move.

"It's great, I'm so happy," she says. "We're almost done restyling our lovely house with a fantastic view of Sardinia's wilderness. We can't wait to settle in for good.

"In Holland people are always on the run, they don't talk much. Here they're welcoming, very friendly, you get offered coffee and treats. We feel part of a big family."


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