Medieval town in southern Italy to pay people to move there

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Santo Stefano di Sessanio is planning to pay up to €8,000 yearly for three years

For those contemplating a fresh start, this small village in Italy might offer a solution worth looking into. Santo Stefano di Sessanio has launched an initiative planning to pay people to move there — but it’s not for everyone.

The current tally of the town’s residents is 115, with 41 over the age of 65 and only 13 under 20. According to its official website, the current population number is not enough to sustain a lasting development of the territory.

Offering up to €8,000 ($9,500) per year paid in monthly installments, the town hopes to attract new residents and boost its economy. Those selected for the project will receive the funding for three years and will be provided with housing for a symbolic rent.

Successful candidates will have to stay for a minimum of five years and open a business there

The current tally of the town’s residents is 115, with 41 over the age of 65 and only 13 under 20The current tally of the town’s residents is 115, with 41 over the age of 65 and only 13 under 20 — Shutterstock

In turn, potential residents must be between the ages of 18 and 40 and eligible for legal residence in the country. They would also need to commit to staying for at least five years and opening a business there, for which the municipality would offer a one-time contribution of €20,000 ($24,000).

The project hopes to attract people with specific skills, such as tourist guides, cleaners, maintenance technicians, pharmacists, or those willing to promote local food products.

Santo Stefano lies in the mountains of the Abruzzo region, roughly 140 kilometers northeast of Rome, and its location might be one of the reasons for the popularity of the project. It was launched on 15 October and so far over 1,500 potential candidates have signed up. The number is likely to rise before 15 November when the project ends.

Limiting the number of successful candidates, the town will select only about 10 people, or five couples, to participate in the project.

“We want to ramp numbers up gradually, and we have to work with the housing that belongs to the authorities,” said Mayor Fabio Santavicca to CNN.

“There’s a sense of tranquility, you live in a self-sufficient way and go back to your roots. There’s none of the chaos of big cities, and you can save more of your own free time.

“I live really well here. There’s good air, and right from the moment you wake up there are incredible views that really lift your spirits and give you a reason to go to work,” continued Santavicca.

Santo Stefano di Sessanio is not the first Italian town trying to attract new residents. Visit Stories to find out about others running a similar initiative.