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EU investing 20 million each to revive 21 abandoned villages throughout rural Italy

As you likely know by now, the European Union is investing 20 million euros each into 21 abandoned medieval villages throughout Italy to attract new residents, business and tourists. But there’s more to it.

Through 2026, the money will be focused on infrastructure, fast broadband Internet connection, transforming castles into tourist lodgings and introducing renewable energy … all the amenities of modern life the interior areas of Italy lack.

The goal is to reverse the centuries-old trend of people leaving rural areas for career opportunities and cultural offerings in cities.

Bloomberg calls it “Europe’s most ambitious economic experiment since the creation of the region’s single currency” back in 1999.

Now, where it gets interesting is some of the cities selected for this newer program also have their own 1 euro home projects or are paying people to move there. So, theoretically, you could be rebuilding an old house in a village while the EU is funding new infrastructure and services.

Jackpot.

(You can see our complete list of 1 euro home offerings here.)

The challenge is, the 21 villages are spread out all through Italy.

This effort is part of a huge 200 billion euro EU pandemic recovery program called European Union’s Recovery Fund. And the way we understand it, each of Italy’s 21 regions and provinces has selected a city for a 20 million euro injection – one in each region and autonomous province — from a pot of 420 million euros, while 229 local communities share the rest. Italy has an estimated 6,000 hamlets and villages, and more than 1,800 applied.

In addition, there’s a parallel program, also funded by the EU, to divide more than $500 million among more than 220 Italian villages to upgrade their museums, cultural institutions and local economies, according to NPR. 

(We’re glad we’re not the ones overseeing the administration of all this cash while keeping safe from Italy’s legendary crime syndicates.)

Local leaders apparently have a lot of autonomy to propose projects. One of the cooler ideas is the albergo diffuso, or “spread-out hotel.” Empty houses would become the “hotel rooms,” grouped around a central reception building, a restaurant and a bar. And, of course, there are the more obvious ideas such education centers, sports centers, museums, cultural centers and art galleries.

CNN visited a few of them to see how they’re trying to attract new tourists.

Villages receiving the 20 million include:

Palù del Fersina

Calascio

Kalsho

Livemmo

Matera

Santos Stephano de Casano

Treviano

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Read more about this effort here.

CS monitor has the best post

Bloomberg also has a detailed post as does the New York Times.

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Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

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