Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Fancy living la vita meravigliosa? Italy is giving away its ancient castles for free

Italian castle.jpg

Imagine this.

Instead of being rudely awaken by the bin men on a cold, murky morning before battling the crowds on the tube, you arise to the mellow stone confines of your very own Italian castle.

No concrete jungle on the horizon, but hazy labyrinths of olive groves and hillside as far as the eye can see, broken up by pops of bougainvillea and fragrant pine trees.

In the distance, the soothing chime of medieval bells replaces a soundscape of blaring traffic.

That’s how we envisage life to be if we took up the Italian government’s new scheme to give away hundreds of its historic buildings that have fallen into a state of disrepair.

Under its so-called “strategic tourist plan”, the powers that be are offering up a delectable clutch of ancient castles, monasteries and towers for free to save them from ruin.


A castle all of your own?

As you may expect, there is a catch to this apparently dream scenario.

Prospective owners would need to have a plan to renovate the property they move into, in a way that draws visitors to the area. 

For instance, they may launch a boutique, luxury hotel lined with duck-egg blue shutters and geraniums (OK that’s our personal vision but we’re rolling with it).

Read more: “I ditched my draining city existence for a lifelong holiday in Italy”

Or they may turn their pad into a paying attraction, that guests get to visit as part of a regional excursion.

"The project will promote and support the development of the slow tourism sector," Roberto Reggi from the State Property Agency told The Local.

"The goal is for private and public buildings which are no longer used to be transformed into facilities for pilgrims, hikers, tourists, and cyclists."

The properties on offer are beautiful but derelict

The properties on offer are beautiful but derelict (stock photo, not included in scheme)

The sites up for grabs are all in remote areas of Italy on hiking or cycling trails, and far from the crowd-pleasing draws of Florence, Venice and the Amalfi.

They would require extensive renovation.

But if watching multiple episodes of Grand Designs has taught us anything, it’s that our makeover ambitions really are within reach.

We just need Kevin McCloud on the sidelines to cheer us on and speak a bit of Italian…

Read more: Italy to become first European country to offer women paid menstrual leave

Applicants must submit a clear plan for the building they’re interested in to the State Property Agency by June 26. The government is particularly interested in luring entrepreneurs from the under-40s bracket.

To find out more and apply, click here.

La dolce vita, here we come...

Photos: iStock


best bb in the world.jpg

The best B&B in the world is in the UK


Get paid a gift of £1,700 to move to this picturesque Italian village


France bans extremely thin models from catwalks


Find yourself a hotel deal with Mr & Mrs Smith

20 Oct 2017

See red in Koh Samui

Stylist heads to Thailand to experience one of the most spectacular swimming pools in the world

by The Stylist web team
17 Oct 2017

You're more likely to get better service on a plane if you sit here

We've got all the in-flight seating tips you could ever want

by Megan Murray
16 Oct 2017

These are the 10 happiest places to live in the UK

Is it time for a change of scenery?

by Susan Devaney
11 Oct 2017

Discover a Costwolds bolthole with museum-worthy art

Stylist finds Artist Residence Oxfordshire more than lives up to its name

by Amy Adams
10 Oct 2017

The 10 dreamiest (and most expensive) streets to live on in the UK

We should have started saving about ten years ago

by Megan Murray
04 Oct 2017

Discover the real Rome that lies beyond the silver screen

Stylist goes behind the scenes at the living film set that is Rome

by The Stylist web team
03 Oct 2017

Seriously hip hotels you need to follow on Instagram

From a rock’n’roll hideaway in Texas to a futuristic glampsite in Devon

by Anna Hart
28 Sep 2017

Step between the scenes of Australia’s artsy second city…

Melbourne shuns beaches and boardwalks for coffee, culture and creativity, finds Stylist

by The Stylist web team
26 Sep 2017

This is how to book an NYC shopping trip with Sarah Jessica Parker

Sex and the City fans, this is not a drill

by Megan Murray
26 Sep 2017