Italian village offers €2,000 cash to lure new residents
Bormida received 17,000 responses since mayor posted offer on Facebook
In the mountains, but near to the sea, the village of Bormida in Liguria is inviting new residents to settle there
The mayor of a remote mountain village in Italy who offered to pay €2,000 to anyone who moves there, in an attempt to save it from becoming a ghost town, has received 17,000 expressions of interest from people all over the world in the last few days.
The initiative was Mayor Daniele Galliano’s way of breathing life into a village whose population has dwindled in recent decades as young people leave to find work in the closest big city of Savona, or beyond.
But the mayor did not expect his offer to be taken up so enthusiastically. He has since said that it was intended only to be available to Italians. “The news was reported in the wrong way, and has reached a worldwide audience,” he said in a Facebook post.
Those who take up residence in Bormida, which sits 420m above sea level in the north-west Liguria region and is home to 394 people, will pay as little as €50 a month in rent.
The finer details of the cash offer still needed to be ironed out and approved by the local council, Galliano wrote on his Facebook page last weekend. But if all goes ahead, from next year an Italian who transfers their residence to Bormida and either rents or buys a property there will be gifted €2,000.
And under the low rent scheme, which should be in place within the next two months, a small property will cost just €50 a month, while a more spacious one will be no more than €120.
“We’re still working out the plan, but anyone is welcome to come and live here,” said a local councillor, who asked not to be named. Anyone Italian, that is, at least if they want to cash in on the move. “We’re a small community but very welcoming. We’re high up in a mountain area but also not far from the sea – it’s a healthy lifestyle, the air is very clean.”
Galliano’s initial Facebook post was met with a flurry of responses from potential new inhabitants, with some saying they would renounce the cash gift in return for a job in the town.
“Mr Mayor, I’m available to move and give up the €2,000, but I can’t live off air. I have a family with two small children, if you can guarantee a job, even the most humble one, it wouldn’t be a problem,” wrote Amedeo Alloca.
‘Free of stress’
But what is life like in Bormida? The manager of Oddone Giuseppe, one of the town’s four restaurants, said: “There is nothing much to do here. But life is so simple and natural, we have forests, goats, the church, and plenty of good food. Life would definitely be free of stress.”
A report last year by Legambiente, an Italian environmental association, found that 2,500 villages across the country risked being abandoned owing to depopulation.
In January the culture ministry named 2017 the “year of the village” as part of an attempt to promote tourism in places at risk of becoming deserted.
– Additional reporting: Guardian Service