(CNN) – When Italian cities began offering homes for sale for just over a dollar, hordes of dreamers were inspired to take a gamble to move to a remote corner in Italy.
Although spending a few thousand extra dollars on real estate renovation was usually part of the deal, it was improved by the prospect of a new life in an ideal location in a beautiful country.
Then the coronavirus struck, the world plunged into crisis, and Italy was among the worst affected.
So what happens when you are in quarantine in a degraded house in a remote village where you hardly speak the language and you cannot reach the house for your loved ones? Is life quickly a nightmare?
Perhaps surprisingly, given the difficulties that ensued, the answer appears to be no.
CNN has spoken to a few people who have bought some of the Italian homes that cities offer cheaply by cities wanting to reverse the trend of population decline.
We found them feeling optimistic and excited to complete the redesign of their properties and realize their Italian dream.
Despite the unexpected turn of events, it seems that attachment in Italy was not a negative experience at all.
The virus crisis has made them more appreciative of the beauty of rural villages in Italy – so much so that some are looking to invest in more cheap real estate.
Musomile is located on top of a hill in Sicily.
Salvatore Catalano, Commonwealth of Mussolimi
The artist, Alvaro Solorzano, based in Miami, is currently stuck in Musumely, a picturesque city on the southern island of Sicily, where last year he bought two inexpensive properties – one costing just one euro, or just over a dollar.
In March he arrived with his wife, son, and son’s friend to start home renovation. The other three returned to Miami and Solorzano was to follow them two weeks later, but his flight was later canceled.
He told CNN: “I lost time. We came here and ended up with a quarantine in Musumely on my own, without any furniture just a bed and a TV, and nobody is talking to him.” “This was the hardest thing. If my wife or son was with me, it would be different.”
One of the properties of Solorzano in Musumely.
Solorzano was staying at a bed and breakfast, but when this was closed off due to restrictions by Covid-19, he had to move to the less destructive property of his property, which was habitable.
Since then, he has been killing time by watching TV, learning Italian, going to the supermarket (“the most beautiful part of the day”) and talking on the phone with his family. Little by little, he was making the most of the situation by fixing the walls of the house and painting them.
He says, “She did little things but she helped me take advantage of the time, so when my son and his girlfriend return home they will be ready.” “Fortunately, the hardware store in the city has always been open, and I am very glad that we bought two properties and not just the Euro house because there is no water, no electricity.”
Alvaro Solorzano of Miami says locals have made his forced stay in Musumele an enjoyable experience.
Maurizio de Maria, Comune Mussomeli
Despite initial difficulties, he said his new neighbors helped him throughout the ordeal.
“It was the first two horrible nights,” he says. “It was cold, I slept with my jacket over the pajamas I wore, but then the neighbors were great. I can’t complain. They gave me heaters and even offered blankets, but I can use the Internet.”
“They kept checking me, and they brought me tons of food for the Easter which took me three days to eat. I don’t know what I would have done without them.”
His neighbors Solorzano brought Easter cakes.
Surrounded by honeysuckle and eucalyptus trees, Musomelli is one of Italy’s most picturesque castles, known as the Enchanted Castle, which clings like a spider on a pointed rock.
Lush green farmlands are dotted with ancient sulfur mines, Roman sanctuaries, cemeteries, and traces of primitive settlements.
The name of the town means “hill of honey” in Latin.
But for Solorzano, the most beautiful attractions of the place are its welcoming residents.
He says, “They are great. I know everyone by name.” “There is Mario, the man who delivers the bread. I have no words to describe how grateful I am for having them and I don’t know how I can pay them back for everything they have done.”
Initially the strict restrictions were loosened now in Italy, which allowed him to roam around, but at first it was difficult, he admits, as there was nothing to do. “It was horrific, just staying home, I felt like I was in prison sometimes.”
Solorzano says he now knows everyone by name.
He now enjoys being able to chat with locals and stroll to a musomile view, where he can sit on a bench and enjoy the fresh air and the mountain.
As a painter, Solorzano says he would have liked to do some artwork, but due to the closure he couldn’t find a pallet or canvas.
Solorzano wants to buy another property in Musumely.
Maurizio de Maria, Comune Mussomeli
He says, “I am working hard to try to come home, but a flight I recently booked has been canceled so I don’t know when I will return to the United States.” “I want to go back before Father’s Day in June. I really missed many celebrations that I could have celebrated with my family.”
The Sicilian stone of Solorzano made him love the most musomile. This ordeal, instead of killing the enthusiasm for his adventure in one euro house, fueled the desire to buy a third abandoned building.
“I love this city and people, even if they don’t know you, they help you. It’s like being in another world. You don’t get this in the United States.”
Trapped in Tuscany
Brazilian Douglas Roque, pictured with his cousin, is stuck in Tuscany while Italy is closed.
Brazilian businessman Douglas Rocky is another buyer of the deteriorating home whose enthusiasm has not been affected by the start of a new life with the coronavirus.
Rocky in Fabrici di Virgemolle, Tuscany, was overseeing the renovation of a one-euro farmhouse residence when the closure occurred and his flight home was canceled.
Along with his Brazilian-Italian friend Alberto Da Liu, both from São Paulo, the two were also in town to oversee the potential purchase of a completely deserted area for other Brazilian buyers.
If they had not been able to stay at the Da Liu family home near Venice, with hotels in Virgimoli closed and the abandoned housing completely uninhabitable, they would have nowhere to go, Rocky says.
Rocky, on the right, is pictured here with Michel Giannini, Mayor of Fabbriche di Vergermoli.
Fabbriche di Vergemoli is a group of small villages scattered in the UNESCO-protected Apuan Alps Forest. The area is full of ruins of abandoned miners’ dwelling houses. Many areas can only be reached on foot.
Roque’s dilapidated three-storey farm, which comes with a chestnut cellar and forgotten old wine barrels, is located in the Dogana district, where a fresh stream runs down a picturesque old bridge.
“I was about to start hairdressing, and then everything was banned,” says Rocky. “It was horrific, the return flight has been canceled and we have problems with the Brazilian consulate.
“I came here in February to pursue the renewal of my home, all the paperwork was done, and I was ready to go but I could not go ahead. My family is in Brazil, where the cases of viruses are increasing.” I am worried about them and they are worried about me. ”
A piece of perfection
Rocky is also trying to buy other homes in the villages for his Brazilian colleagues.
Courtesy of Douglas Rocky
The two friends also had to deal with the consequences of long stay: monthly credit line troubles of credit cards and seasonal changes in clothes when they arrived in the winter, and it’s now almost spring (luckily, they found some locks in Da Lio’s).
While awaiting the resumption of global air traffic, Rocky is eager to advance again in Virgoimoli as soon as the Italian authorities lift restrictions on movement between regions – a move expected in early June.
“All this time I was trying to work on my project online, contacting construction companies and contacting Brazilian buyers, friends and relatives interested in buying real estate in Virgemolí but they couldn’t travel now. I hope to finish everything soon.”
Rocky says he chose Vergemoli from all places in Italy to buy a one-euro house because despite everything that happened, it’s still a dream destination.
“Tuscany is a wonderful area and the major historical and artistic cities are close by. It is the perfect location.”