Molise, a mountainous Italian region with a stretch of coastline on the Adriatic Sea has announced it will pay people more than $27,000 to move in to one of its 106 underpopulated villages in an effort to prevent their communities from dying, CNN reported. The region is a wild, beautiful but overlooked area that lies east of Rome.
According to the report, anyone who accepts the offer will receive 700 euros a month (about $770) for up to three years to help them settle in and have babies, start a small business, and contribute meaningfully to the local economy.
“I want my region to undergo a renaissance and avoid its authentic villages turning into ghost towns,” Antonio Tedeschi, an Italian regional councilor who came up with the idea, said. “We need to safeguard our roots,” he added.
Tedeschi, who was born in Filignano – a small village in Molise of about 700 residents, said he knows what it means to see old traditions and historical places fall into oblivion and wants to stop the decline in its tracks.
Everyone is encouraged to apply, especially young people and couples with children.
“The goal is to breathe new life and revamp the local economy,” he says. “Newcomers are free to kick-start anything they please in order to get our financial support: a small inn, restaurant, bar, B&B, a tiny rural farm, artisan boutique, library or shop selling local gourmet excellences.”
Thousands of people have left Molise in recent years. Official statistics say the number of people living there has fallen by almost 9,000 since 2014, pushing the region’s population to just 305,000.
Now one of Italy’s most depopulated regions, 106 of its 136 towns have fewer than 2,000 residents, according to CNN.
Here are some details about the villages in the region.
The town of Fornelli is among those hoping to attract new residents.
Courtesy Region Molise
Fornelli is known as the City of Oil because of the olive groves dotting a landscape that also harbors premium truffles and species of endangered legumes.
Nominated for the 2019’s Italy’s Most Beautiful Town contest, it has a medieval center that was once protected by a drawbridge and is now a web of narrow alleys and arched entrances.
Clinging to the rocky cliff side of Mount San Marco, this village takes its name from the Italian word pietre, meaning “rocks.”
The white-yellowish stone dwellings at the feet of a majestic castle contrast with the green-brownish stones covered in lush vegetation that cover the landscape.
Isolation has preserved the village from centuries of Barbarian raids and the doorways of homes and aristocratic buildings are adorned with weird stone images.
One of the high spots of the year in Riccia is a picturesque grape festival that celebrates the end of the vendemmia or harvest and attracts wine lovers from across Italy.
The event sees floats decorated with grapes parade through the cobbled streets as actors hand out gourmet treats.
Capracotta and Campitello Matese
One of the attractions of Molise, Italy’s second smallest region, is that it has everything in one place: sea, lakes, forests and even the Apennine mountain range.
Capracotta and Campitello Matese are the region’s top winter sports resorts, pulling in snowboarders and cross-country amateurs.
Pietrabbondante and Sepino
The two small villages of Pietrabbondante and Sepino both contain the secret, largely unknown ruins of once-glorious citadels.
A large chunk of Molise used to lie within the kingdom of the fiery Samnite tribes who refused to bend the knee to Ancient Rome but were eventually slaughtered.
Saepinum, or Sepino’s ruins, is incredibly well preserved with statues of imprisoned barbarians greeting visitors at the entrance.
San Giovanni in Galdo
San Giovanni in Galdo is located near one of Molise’s main routes used by shepherds to move their livestock between low and high pastures.
The old town, dubbed Morrutto or “broken walls” in local dialect, is a maze of caves and underground chambers.
Castel San Vincenzo
The clear waters of its blue lake makes Castel San Vincenzo one of Molise’s most visited towns by day-trippers.
Set in the Alta Valle del Volturno, it is called the Valley of Faith, because monks and pilgrims have, for centuries, come here for meditation and prayer.
The village, dating back to pre-Roman times, is a collection of pastel-coloured peasant houses connected by staircases and nestled at the feet of an overhanging fortress.
The town’s symbol is a huge stone cross. Its belvedere piazza offers a unique panorama of surrounding meadows dotted with the ruins of Samnite towers.