The Americans who bought bargain homes in Italy’s deep south


Buying an abandoned home in a tiny, depopulated Italian village is something that many travelers will have mulled over, especially given the vast number of bargain house schemes launched in the European country over the past few years.

After CNN Travel reported earlier this year that Latronico, situated in the deep south of Italy, had launched the platform “Your House in Latronico” in an attempt to connect old owners with potential buyers, the town was flooded with foreigners, with around 90% originating from the United States. Although Covid-19 travel restrictions brought numerous challenges for buyers, some were able to visit the town more than once in order to ensure they could secure the right house, leaving Latronico’s locals flabbergasted by the sudden interest in their town.

Although the homes for sale here are slightly more expensive, with prices ranging between €10,000 and $30,000, than those featured in the hugely popular one euro home schemes, the main difference is that these abandoned homes are not in desperate need of renovation. In fact, most are in good condition. Some are ready-to-occupy, others partly restyled, while a few even come with furniture. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a number of the homes have been snapped up in the months since the scheme was announced.

Frank Cohen, a retired American freelance reporter from New Haven, was so impressed with Latronico that he decided to buy three houses in the town’s historical district. The first is a 65-square-meter turnkey property, which he paid €20,000 for, the second is a home in similarly good condition that cost roughly the same amount. However, the third, which cost considerably less at €6,000, will require a complete makeover. While splashing out on three homes in one depopulated Italian village may seem extreme to some, Cohen says he fell in love with Latronico, located in the pristine Pollino National Park, pretty much instantly. “I think it would be nearly impossible to find a lovelier or more welcoming town,” he says of the town, which is renowned for its thermal baths and healthy air.