The Italian village paying up to 44,000 euros to anyone who decides to go and live and work there
5 November 2020, Redaction

The initiatives to encourage the repopulation of Southern Italy and inland areas continue. Among these is the project of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, a small village in Abruzzo in the province of L'Aquila, which has just launched a very interesting initiative: offering accommodation for rent at a symbolic price and a non-refundable contribution for new residents. The project is still in the "exploratory" phase but has already stirred up a lot of interest. To find out more idealista/news interviewed the mayor, Fabio Santavicca.

Santo Stefano di Sessanio is a small town of just 115 inhabitants, 41 of whom are over 65 years old and only 13 are under 20. However, during the summer and Christmas period there is generally a great influx of tourists in the small town of Abruzzo. This was explained by the mayor Fabio Santavicca himself.

"This project was born out of a need", explains the mayor who is in his seventh year in office. "We are a small village but compared to many others, we have a fairly positive microeconomic system and in the village there are many accommodation activities and even some services that have been established in recent years. This is because for 5-6 years we have had good momentum from a tourist point of view, but not in all periods of the year".

Santavicca, in fact, emphasises that in the small town there is no lack of entrepreneurial activity, even if it is a family business, but "in the winter and spring period we are suffering and there are only a few of us, hence our idea to develop a plan for the recovery of social life and therefore for the repopulation of Santo Steno di Sessanio".  However, the mayor is aware of the difficulties that living in a village like this can have: "Living in a village which is 1,300 metres above sea level is not as simple as living in an urban centre where everything is close by, so any new residents must be encouraged".

In the intentions of the administration, the idea is to offer valid reasons to encourage people to move to Santo Stefano di Sessanio: a monthly non-refundable grant for 3 years up to a maximum of 8,000 euros per year; a house to rent at a symbolic price and a non-refundable grant, up to a maximum of 20,000 euros a year to start a business.

In detail, the initiative is addressed to both Italian and foreign citizens (EU citizens or holders of an EC long-term residence permit issued for an indefinite period of time) aged between 18 and 40, who wish to transfer their residence to Santo Stefano di Sessanio for at least 5 years and start a business activity in the Municipality.

The Mayor of Santavicca has specified that the project is currently in an exploratory phase, i.e. he is currently investigating the availability and interest of the target audience and that, in a second phase, once the interest generated has been ascertained, funds will be raised (both public and private) to finance the possible call for proposals.

The interest generated is already considerable. "After having published the press release on the website, without having even advertised it, in a few hours more than a thousand people had filled in the online form", explains the mayor, adding that "requests continue to arrive and we will evaluate them once the deadline for the presentation is over" (15th November 2020).

The aim is to give new life to the social context of the village, even outside the high tourist season, and also to support those who live in the village, encouraging the start of new activities. "We want to give serenity to those who live in Santo Stefano di Sessanio, to remove the sense of abandonment and loneliness that affects those who live there", although above all, the may wants to "preserve the customs and traditions" of the way of life in the village.

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