(CNN) – When Italian towns began offering homes for sale for more than $ 1, they inspired dreamy legions to play a gamble to move to the far corner of Italy.
Although spending a few extra thousand dollars to renew the property is often part of the deal, it was sweetened by the prospect of a new life in an idyllic place in a beautiful country.
And then the coronavirus dragged the world into crisis and was among the worst affected countries in Italy.
So what happens when you are quarantined in a collapsing house in a remote village where you hardly speak the language and your loved ones can’t go home? Is life quickly becoming a nightmare?
Perhaps given the difficulties that follow surprisingly, the answer seems to be no.
CNN spoke to several people who were inexpensively offered by towns that wanted to reverse the population-related trends that bought some of their Italian homes.
I found them feeling eager to complete re-renovation of kindness and property and make Italian dreams come true.
Despite unexpected events, being trapped in Italy was not such a negative experience.
And the virus crisis made them even more appreciated by the beauty of the rural villages of Italy – so much that some want to invest in cheaper properties.
Mussomeli is located on a hill in Sicily.
Salvatore Catalano, Comune Mussolemia
Miami-based artist Alvaro Solorzano bought two cheap properties last year in Mussomeli, a picturesque town in the south of Sicily – one of them only cost a euro or a little more.
He came with his wife, son and girlfriend of his son to start renovating the houses in March. The other three returned to Miami, and Solorzano would follow them a few weeks later, but their flight was canceled.
CNN said, “I lost track of time. We got together and lived the quarantine in Mussomeli alone, without any bed and TV, and without anyone talking.” “It was the hardest thing. If my wife or son were with me, it would be different.”
One of Solorzano’s features in Mussomeli.
Solorzano was staying in a B&B, but when this Covid-19 closed due to its restrictions, it had to move to a less devastated place than its two almost habitable properties.
Since then he has been watching TV, learning Italian, going to the supermarket (“the best part of the day”) and talking to the family on the phone. Gradually, he makes the most of the situation by repairing and painting the walls of the house.
“I did very little, but it helped me use my time, so when my son and girlfriend are back, their house will be ready,” she says. “Fortunately, the hardware store in the city was always open, and I am very happy that we bought two properties, not just one euro house, because there was no water or electricity.”
Alvaro Solorzano from Miami said that local residents made forced accommodation in Mussomeli an enjoyable experience.
Maurizio Di Maria, Comune Mussomeli
Despite the initial distress, he says his new neighbors help him through the ordeal.
“The first two nights were terrible,” he says. “It was cold, I slept on my jacket over my pajamas, but then the neighbors were great. I can’t complain. They gave me heaters and even offered the blankets I had, but I could use their internet.”
“They kept checking me, they brought me tons of food for Easter for three days. I don’t know what I would do without them.”
Easter cakes were brought by the neighbors of Solorzano.
Surrounded by honeysuckle and eucalyptus trees, Mussomeli has one of Italy’s most breathtaking castles, known as the Magic Castle, which sticks like a spider to a pointed rock.
The fertile green farmland is filled with traces of ancient sulfur mines, temples, Roman necropoleis and primitive settlements.
The name of the town means “Honey Hill” in Latin.
But for Solorzano, the sweetest attractions of the place are hospitable residents.
“Wonders, I know everyone by name,” he says. “There’s Mario, the man who delivered the bread. I have no words to explain how grateful I was for having them, and I don’t know how I can repay them for what they did.”
Initially, difficult restrictions were reduced in Italy, he allowed him to move around, but at first he admitted that it was difficult, nothing to do. “It was horrible, I just felt like staying at home, sometimes in jail.”
Solorzano says he now knows everyone by name.
He likes to be able to chat with the locals now and walk towards Mussomeli’s perspective, where he can sit on a bench and enjoy the fresh air and mountain views.
As a painter, Solorzano says that he will enjoy making some artwork, but could not find a palette or canvas due to the crash.
Solorzano wants to buy another property in Mussomeli.
Maurizio Di Maria, Comune Mussomeli
“I’ve been working hard to try to return home, but a recently booked flight has been canceled, so I don’t really know when I’m going back to America,” he says. “I want to be before Father’s Day in June. I already missed many festivities that I can celebrate with my family.”
Solorzano’s Sicilian quarantine made him love Mussomeli even more. His ordeal fueled his desire to buy a third abandoned building instead of killing his enthusiasm for a euro home adventure.
“I love this city and people even if they don’t know you. They help you. Like being in another world. You can’t get it in America.”
Trapped in Tuscany
Brazilian Douglas Roque, pictured with his cousin, was stuck in Tuscany during the crash of Italy.
Brazilian businessman Douglas Roque is another dilapidated home buyer who has been weakened by coronavirus in his desire to start a new life.
Roque was in Fabbriche di Vergemoli in Tuscany, overseeing the renewal of a euro farm when the crash occurred and the return home was canceled.
Together with their Brazilian-Italian friend Alberto Da Lio from Sao Paulo, both were in the city to oversee the potential purchase of all of the abandoned area for other Brazilian buyers.
If Roque, Da Lio’s family home near Venice was not possible, the hotels in Vergemoli were closed and abandoned dwellings would not have been completely lived, they would have nowhere to go.
Roque on the right is pictured here with mayor Michele Giannini, the mayor of Fabbriche di Vergermoli.
Fabbriche di Vergemoli is a set of hamlets scattered in the UNESCO-listed Apuan Alps forest. The region is filled with the remains of abandoned miners’ residences invaded by vegetation. Many areas can only be reached on foot.
Roque’s ruined three-story farm, which comes with a chestnut cellar and forgotten old wine barrels, is located in the Dogana district, where an unspoilt stream runs under an old, picturesque bridge.
“I was about to start with the restyle and then everything was blocked,” says Roque. “It was terrible, our return flight was canceled and we had problems with the Brazilian consulate.
“I came here for the renovation of my home in February, all the paperwork was done, I was ready to go, but I could not continue. My family is in Brazil, where the incidence of viruses has increased. I am worried for them and they are concerned for me.”
Part of perfection
Roque is also trying to buy other homes in the villages for other Brazilians.
Courtesy of Douglas Roque
Both friends had to deal with the consequences of prolonged stay: credit card monthly limits and seasonal dress changes as winter came and now it’s almost spring (fortunately, they found lighter gafrments in Da Lio’s).
While waiting for global air traffic to continue, Roque asks Italian authorities to remove restrictions on moving between regions – with an expected move in early June, he wants to set foot in Vergemoli again.
“I’ve been trying to work on my project online for so long, to contact construction companies, and to contact other Brazilian buyers, friends and relatives who are interested in buying property in Vergemoli, but who are now unable to travel. I hope to conclude everything soon.”
Roque said that he chose Vergemoli from all places in Italy to buy a single euro house because, despite all this, he remains a dream destination.
“Tuscany is a magnificent region and major historical and artistic cities are nearby. Perfect location.”