An Italian town is offering to pay people up to €2,000 (N840, 000) to move there. Nicola Gatta, mayor of Candela, a small town in Puglia, has made the offer in the hope of reversing the town’s declining population.
Gatta told CNN Travel that he wants to bring numbers back up to the 8,000 of the 1990s, when the town was known as “Little Naples”. Today, there are just 2,700 residents.
The declining population of Italy’s borghi – historical small towns – has been a matter of national concern for decades. Many people emigrated in the post-war years, and since then, a combination of ageing populations, economic squeeze and lack of opportunities has seen an exodus from the countryside to the cities.
Many have tried to find solutions. In Lazio, Civita di Bagnoregio – which has just 12 permanent residents – has reinvented itself as an Instagram-perfect weekend retreat from Rome. The strategy has worked so well that visitor numbers have risen from 40,000 to 800,000 a year – something former Italian premier Matteo Renzi recently called “an example for everyone”.
The albergo diffuso model – in which abandoned apartments are turned into a “scattered hotel” is also making headway, providing income for the towns as well as jobs for the locals. The brainchild of Giancarlo Dall’Ara, the scheme is proving popular in Puglia, down in the heel of Southern Italy, which has seen mass emigration over the past few decades.
And in nearby Calabria, refugees are breathing new life into Riace, a town that had been all but abandoned by locals. Author Roberto Saviano said in a recent interview with Vanity Fair Italy that refugees are the future for Italy’s economy. Read more