They bought a $1 house in Italy, then Covid-19 struck

(CNN) — When Italian cities started providing homes on the market for little greater than $1, they impressed legions of dreamers to take a gamble on shifting to a distant nook of Italy.

Although spending a few thousand {dollars} additional on renovating the property was often a part of the deal, it was sweetened by the prospect of a new life in an idyllic spot in a stunning nation.

And then the coronavirus struck, plunging the world into disaster, with Italy among the many worst affected international locations.

So what occurs whenever you’re quarantined in a crumbling residence in a distant village the place you barely communicate the language and may’t get residence to your family members? Does life rapidly turn out to be a nightmare?

Perhaps surprisingly given the hardships that adopted, the reply appears to be no.

CNN spoke to a few individuals who bought among the Italian properties being provided cheaply by cities desirous to reverse declining inhabitants tendencies.

We discovered them feeling upbeat and keen to finish their property reworking and make their Italian dream come true.

Despite the surprising flip of occasions, it appears being caught in Italy hasn’t been such a destructive expertise in any case.

And the virus disaster has made them admire much more the fantastic thing about Italy’s rural villages — a lot in order that some wish to make investments in extra low cost properties.

Losing monitor

Mussomeli is positioned on a hilltop in Sicily.

Salvatore Catalano, Comune Mussolemi

Miami-based artist Alvaro Solorzano is presently caught in Mussomeli, a picturesque city in the southern island of Sicily the place final yr he bought two low cost properties — one in all them costing only one euro, or a little over a greenback.

In March he arrived along with his spouse, son and son’s girlfriend to begin renovating the homes. The different three headed again to Miami and Solorzano was as a consequence of observe them a couple of weeks later, however then his flight was canceled.

“I lost track of time. We came here together and I ended up living the quarantine in Mussomeli all by myself, without any furniture just a bed and TV, and nobody to talk to,” he tells CNN. “That was the hardest thing. Had my wife or son been with me, it would have been different.”


One of Solorzano’s properties in Mussomeli.

Solorzano had been staying in a B&B, however when this closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, he was compelled to maneuver into the much less dilapidated of his two properties, which was nearly liveable.

Since then, he is been killing time by watching TV, studying Italian, going to the grocery store (“the nicest part of the day”) and speaking on the telephone along with his household. Little by little, he is been making essentially the most out of the state of affairs by repairing and portray the partitions of the house.

“I did little things but it helped me use time, so when my son and his girlfriend come back their home will be ready,” he says. “Luckily the hardware store in town has always been open and I’m so glad we bought two properties and not just the one euro house as it has no water nor electricity.”

Local heroes

Italian town Mussomeli

Alvaro Solorzano from Miami says native residents have made his enforced keep in Mussomeli a nice expertise.

Maurizio Di Maria, Comune Mussomeli

Despite an preliminary hardship, he says his new neighbors helped him all through the ordeal.

“The first two nights were terrible,” he says. “It was cold, I slept with my jacket on top of my pajamas but then the neighbors were great. I can’t complain. They gave me heaters and even offered blankets, which I had, but I could use their internet.”

“They kept checking in on me, brought me tons of food for Easter which took me three days to eat. I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

easter cakes

Solorzano was introduced Easter truffles by his neighbors.

Mussomeli, surrounded by honeysuckle and eucalyptus timber, boasts one in all Italy’s most breathtaking fortresses, generally known as the Enchanted Castle, which clings like a spider on a pointed rock.

The fertile inexperienced farmland is dotted with previous sulfur mines, sanctuaries, Roman necropolises and traces of primitive settlements.

The city’s title means “Hill of Honey” in Latin.

But to Solorzano the sweetest sights of the place are its welcoming residents.

“They’re wonderful, I know everyone by name,” he says. “There’s Mario, the guy who delivers the bread. I’ve got no words to describe how grateful I am of having them and don’t know how I could ever repay them for all they did.”

Initially powerful restrictions have now eased in Italy, permitting him to stroll round, however at first it was laborious, he admits, as there was nothing to do. “It was terrible, just staying at home, I felt like being in jail sometimes.”

Property empire


Solorzano says he now is aware of everybody by title.

Now he relishes having the ability to chat to locals and stroll to Mussomeli’s viewpoint, the place he can sit on a bench and luxuriate in recent air and mountain panoramas.

As a painter, Solorzano says he would’ve cherished doing a little art work, however because of the lockdown he could not discover a pallet or a canvas.

Italian town Mussomeli

Solorzano needs to purchase one other property in Mussomeli.

Maurizio Di Maria, Comune Mussomeli

“I’m working hard to try to get back home, but a flight which I recently booked has also been canceled so I really don’t know when I will return to the States,” he says. “I want to be back before Father’s Day in June. I’ve already missed so many festivities I could have celebrated with my family.”

Solorzano’s Sicilian quarantine has made him love Mussomeli much more. The ordeal, as an alternative of getting killed enthusiasm for his one euro house journey, has fueled a need to buy a third deserted constructing.

“I love this town and the people, even if they don’t know you, they help you out. It’s like being in another world. You don’t get this in the States”.

Trapped in Tuscany

roque vert

Brazilian Douglas Roque, pictured right here along with his cousin, has been caught in Tuscany throughout Italy’s lockdown.

Douglas Roque

Brazilian businessman Douglas Roque is one other dilapidated residence purchaser whose enthusiasm for beginning a new life has been undimmed by coronavirus.

Roque was in Fabbriche di Vergemoli, Tuscany, overseeing the renovation of a one euro farm dwelling when lockdown struck and his flight again residence was canceled.

Together along with his Brazilian-Italian buddy Alberto Da Lio, each from Sao Paulo, the 2 had been additionally in city to supervise the potential buy of a whole deserted space for different Brazilian consumers.

Had they not been in a position to keep at Da Lio’s household house close to Venice, with inns in Vergemoli shut and the deserted dwelling completely uninhabitable, they might have had nowhere to go, says Roque.

roque mayor

Roque, on the suitable, is pictured right here with Fabbriche di Vergermoli mayor, Michele Giannini.

Douglas Roque

Fabbriche di Vergemoli is a cluster of hamlets scattered in the UNESCO-listed protected forest of the Apuan Alps. The space is dotted with ruins of deserted miners’ dwellings overrun by vegetation. Many areas may be reached solely by foot.

Roque’s dilapidated three-story farm, which comes with a chestnut cellar and forgotten previous wine barrels, is positioned in the neighborhood of Dogana, the place a pristine stream runs beneath an historical, picturesque bridge.

“I was about to start the restyle and then everything was blocked,” says Roque. “It was terrible, our return flight was canceled and we had issues with the Brazilian consulate.

“I got here right here in February to pursue the renovation of my house, all of the paperwork was executed, I used to be able to go however could not transfer on with it. And my household is in Brazil, the place virus circumstances have been growing. I’m fearful for them they usually’re fearful for me.”

Piece of perfection

roque douglas village

Roque is also trying to purchase other houses in the villages for fellow Brazilians.

Courtesy Douglas Roque

The two friends also had to deal with the consequences of a prolonged stay: the hassle of credit card monthly limits and seasonal clothing changes as they arrived in winter and it is now almost spring (luckily, they found some lighter gafrments at Da Lio’s).

While he waits for global air traffic to resume, Roque’s anxious to set foot again in Vergemoli as soon as Italian authorities lift restrictions on moving between regions — a move expected in early June.

“All this time I’ve been making an attempt to work on my venture on-line, contacting development corporations and liaising with different Brazilian consumers, mates and kin in shopping for property in Vergemoli however who cannot journey now. I hope to finalize the whole lot quickly.”

Roque says he picked Vergemoli of all places in Italy to buy a one euro house because, despite all that’s happened, it remains a dream destination.

“Tuscany is a marvelous area and main historic and creative cities are close by. It’s the right spot.”

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