Renovators wanted: Italian government giving away more than 100 heritage sites for free

Italy’s government is giving away more than 100 historic buildings for free on the understanding that any prospective owners must turn their site into a heritage attraction.

Hoping to breathe new life into disused public buildings, including castles, farmhouses and monasteries, the scheme was unveiled by the government-run Agenzia del Demanio (ADD) – Italy’s state property agency.

"The goal is for private and public buildings which are no longer used to be transformed into facilities for pilgrims, hikers, tourists, and cyclists," said ADD’s Roberto Reggi, speaking to The Local.

Any successful applicants will also receive an “Art Bonus” – a tax break on art-related charitable donations – a scheme with first became available in 2015 and can be used for things such as maintenance and restoration of historic buildings.

Winning bidders will gain a nine-year lease on the properties, with the option to renew for a further nine years. Those who are believed to have a strong restoration and operation plan can be given a 50-year lease.

“Tourism could be the engine for Italian economic growth if the country addresses the necessary efforts to bring to the surface this hidden potential,” said a statement from ADD.

“It offers valuable opportunities for adding value to Italian historic and artistic heritage, attracting new resources for their conservation and enhancement."

Following the initial offering of 103 buildings, a further 200 will become available over the next two years.

Prospective owners will need to outline their plans with proposals on how they will restore the properties and turn them into tourist facilities. ADD is seeking entrepreneurs, cooperatives and businesses run by people under 40 for the project. An application deadline has been set for 26 June.

Italy, which has more World Heritage sites than any other country, has had an eye on bettering its heritage in the last few years. Last year the government earmarked €1bn (US$1.16bn, £790m) for cultural investments on projects across the country and also approved €300m (US$325m, £220m) plans to protect its most important heritage sites in need of restoration. The government was also seeking corporate sponsors and donors last year to help restore historic sites in Rome.

Italy  visitor attraction  heritage  Agenzia del Demanio  Art Bonus  State Property Agency  Italian heritage  
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Italy’s government is giving away more than 100 historic buildings for free on the understanding that any prospective owners must turn their site into a heritage attraction. Hoping to breathe new life into disused public buildings, including castles, farmhouses and monasteries, the scheme was unveiled by the government-run Agenzia del Demanio (ADD) – Italy’s state property agency. "The goal is for private and public buildings which are no longer used
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Montefiore Castle, located in the territory of Recanati, is among the sites up for grabs as part of the new initiative
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