Home owners in Castropignano, Italy dispute $1 houses: 'Please do not steal our home from us'

Over the past few years, dozens of small towns in Italy have made headlines for selling abandoned houses for less than the price of a cup of coffee, in a bid to inject new life into dying communities.

Naturally, there's been a lot of interest in these schemes – which usually require the new homeowners to commit to renovating the properties within a set timeframe.

But now CNN Travel reports that families of the original owners of some of these homes are stepping forward to stake their claim on the dilapidated buildings – which in some cases have not been lived in for several generations – arguing they should not be sold without their permission.

One of them is Josie Faccini, whose grandmother migrated to Canada in the 1950s, leaving behind an old stone house in the centre of Castropignano, a medieval town in Italy's southern Molise region.

Faccini, who lives in Niagara Falls, last year read about the town's plans to sell around 100 of the abandoned properties for the symbolic price of €1 ($A1.55) each.

She attempted to contact the town's mayor about her claim to her nonna's home, but it was eight months before she received a reply, in which she was told she would need to provide a deed of ownership.

"I am so angry and frustrated," she told CNN Travel.

"I would like to see the town flourish and help be a part of this, but please do not steal our home from us."

Nicola Scapillati, the mayor of Castropignano, told CNN Travel he would be happy to co-operate with Faccini if her details could be verified.

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"We're not grabbing any property, we don't want to take any house away from any family, quite the contrary," he said.

"We're thrilled that our project has created enthusiasm and thrown Castropignano in the spotlight, drawing people eager to join forces in recovering our lovely community."

Scapillati said he had been attempting to reach original owners of the homes based on land registry data, and had also sent out notices about the project to Italian diplomatic missions abroad.

However, Faccini said she had never received any information from the embassy in Canada.

She now wants to know what can be done to recover the house, which she said she used to stay in up until 10 years ago.

An aunt subsequently used the house. Since her death, Faccini had "no idea" what had happened to it – but if possible, she wants to move in.

"It's the only thing I have left of my mom, I'd like to keep it," she said.

"I want to go and live in the house, show it to my nephews and nieces who have never seen it. I'd like to work together with the mayor to help Castropignano flourish again.

"I'd be the greatest advocate for people wanting to buy a house there."

Stuff.co.nz

See also: Property in Australia was too expensive, so Mark bought a house in Italy for one euro

See also: Fancy a three-month sabbatical in an Italian village, all expenses paid?

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