It sounds too good to be true, but it's not: Italy is giving castles away to young entrepreneurs.
In what sounds like a pretty awesome contest, 103 historic buildings — villas, castles, farm houses, pumping stations, former schools, palaces — across the country, will be given away to the entrepreneurs with the best ideas. Those who receive the properties are asked to refurbish them and turn them into something that will attract tourists — hotels, shops, spas, you name it.
This contest, called "cammini e percorsi," which translates to "roads and paths," is an effort to enhance tourism across the country and spread it beyond the major touristic hubs which are falling victim to over-crowding. "The goal is for private and public buildings which are no longer used to be transformed into facilities for pilgrims, hikers, tourists, and cyclists," the agency running the initiative told The Local Italy. "The project will promote and support the development of the slow tourism sector." All buildings on offer are well off the beaten path.
Those interested can submit proposals from now until June 26th, and Huffington Post Italy reported that the winners will also receive 3 million Euros in mentoring and consultation for the first two years, along with a lease of their property that will last at least nine years. It sounds like a pretty good deal, for both Italy and entrepreneurs.
If you enter and don't win, never fear — they will be running the contest again in 2018 and 2019. It seems that Italy has enough beautiful old buildings to go around.