Cheap Sicilian Villas, Some Strings Attached

In Salemi, Italy, 3000 villas ravaged in a 1968 earthquake are now on the market for about U.S.$1.41. However, interested buyers must adhere to a number of stipulations, including a two-year deadline for development.
September 18, 2008, 11am PDT | Judy Chang
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"The idea, conceived with the help of advertising guru Oliviero Toscani, is to attract foreign investors interested in a remote Sicilian escape for vacations or businesses. (Italians have already passed on previous similar offers.) The authorities hope the plan will turn Salemi into a boomtown, employing hundreds of out-of-work locals in construction and renovation projects. 'These houses are like a heart pierced by a thorn,' says Toscani, who is best known for his controversial advertisement photography using human hearts and anorexic fashion models. 'They are dangerous, but they also represent a patrimony that is slowly dissolving away.'"

"The concept is inarguably one that would be beneficial to Sicily's stagnant economy on many levels. Increased revenue from taxes would boost infrastructure and there seems little question that unemployment, which hovers around 30 percent in this part of Italy, would decrease substantially as artisans are put to work on the renovations."

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Published on Monday, September 15, 2008 in Newsweek
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