Better Than a €1 Home in “Little America”

I see very little evidence of it so far. However, a wave of Americans has rolled into town, mostly saying that this place is called “America Little”.

In Sambuca di Sicilia, located on the island of Sicily, the majority of the population consists of Italians. Over the past two days, I have not come across any American flags or encountered anyone speaking with an American accent. However, one notable observation is that the cars in this area are generally compact in size. Additionally, it is common for locals to enjoy pastry as their breakfast choice. Furthermore, beer continues to be served in elegant stemmed glasses.

I rarely hear news about the program that has started giving away homes for €1 in the hilltop town of Sambuca. I came here to investigate CNN’s claim.

The idea was to attract fresh blood to the town suffering from depopulation as the years went by, by moving young residents to bigger cities. For those who missed the unusual decision to start selling houses at a nominal price rate, it was made in 2019 to start selling Sambuca.

There are many extensive renovations needed due to the extreme neglect of the state. The historic homes in the town’s center have been unoccupied for years and are now being offered for €1.

The program is beautiful, but it requires those who take the offer to spend a minimum of €15,000 on refurbishments within a few years of purchasing.

They also need to pay a €5,000 security deposit that will be refunded once the work is finished.

It’s a mutually advantageous situation. The purchasers obtain an economical dwelling in a historic Italian town. The town entices new inhabitants…And monetary assets.

It was yet another sold-out event, prompting them to organize a second iteration of the program (this time with the homes priced at €2). They managed to sell all 16 houses that were initially available, which is quite impressive. Additionally, the program has been immensely successful.

Buyers arrived from as distant as China, Russia, and Argentina. However, primarily they came from Europe, Britain, and the United States.

Sambuca’s main street is quiet, but you’ll find a number of nice shady bars to enjoy a glass of wine.

However, perhaps the gain for the town has been bigger since they made the finished offer of €1, as many folks who came because of the media coverage of the cheap homes they bought on the regular market were still extremely cheap and arguably of better value.

Last week, two homes were sold. Additionally, a house was sold here just yesterday. Up to this point, a total of 150 homes have been sold, with the majority being purchased by American buyers. These buyers informed me that they had the opportunity to meet the delightful local mayor, Giuseppe Cacioppo.

I understand the process…

You arrive out of interest. Perhaps with the desire of acquiring a €1 residence for yourself.

You are taken by the beauty of the town, with narrow alleys and sandstone homes in the Arab Quarter, embellished streets and small doors, ribbed vaults and arched alleys, all displaying Mediterranean colors.

From Belvedere’s highest point, Terrazzo, you can drink in the mesmerizing views of the green valley where undulating hills create a patchwork of vineyards and olive groves.

At Pane e Radici, the top eatery in the city, you indulge in seafood and pasta to satisfy your hunger. Additionally, you indulge in Minni di Virgini, a Sambucan dessert that mimics the contours of the nearby hills, which is filled with cream, chocolate chips, and candied squash.

Sambuca di Sicilia won the title of the most beautiful village in Italy in 2016
Sambuca di Sicilia won the title of the most beautiful village in Italy in 2016.

Two siblings manage the establishment. It is situated on the outskirts of Mount Genuardo and is considered among the finest of the numerous nearby vineyards encircling Sambuca. Local eateries offer the wine in one-liter quantities for €5. Lastly, we must not forget about the exquisite wine.

You can buy a historic home on the regular market for as little as €40,000, but there is no home available for €1. Now you’re sold on the idea of owning a home here.

According to a brief search, a historic four-bedroom house in the Arab quarter is listed on Idealista.It, one of the primary real estate listings websites in Italy, for €25,000.

A fully refurbished two-bedroom flat located away from the main road for €60,000.

Additionally, a five-bedroom apartment requiring some rejuvenation is available for €40,000.

In Sambuca, like many others, it is more advisable to purchase something from the standard market and bypass the additional effort. The notable aspect regarding these €1 residences is that you will end up spending nearly the same amount as the cost of a house to refurbish them.

I recorded some footage of the city to provide you with a glimpse of its atmosphere.

Click to view a short tour around the city of Sambuca di Sicilia.

However, my observation is that a few of the folks who came and bought homes here in Sambuca, made permanent residences and saw a number of buildings look like renovations had progressed, suspecting they were suspended due to the pandemic.

There is a lack of enough cafes or restaurants in town that offer a variety of food. The majority of local services run around the perimeter of the town, away from the historical center, as they cannot accommodate the high volume of traffic. There is a certain impracticality to these homes.

Just last night, I dined with a British couple whose love for wine led us to a winery. The winery, which is gaining a strong reputation in recent years, is located on the Sicilian wine trail. However, Sambuca is undoubtedly a fantastic spot to explore the surrounding region.

Sambuca is home to several breathtaking beaches that can be reached within a half-hour drive. Additionally, the culturally vibrant city of Palermo, which I extensively discussed in 2019, is located slightly more than one hour away.

Located amidst sand dunes is Le Solette, a more tranquil sandy beach. Proceed along the coastline for a short distance, and you will find it. The beach was excessively crowded for my liking due to it being a local holiday. Yesterday, I ventured out to Porto Palo Beach, an extremely popular bay with velvety smooth sand and a promenade adorned with seafood eateries and cafés. The temperature soared above 33°C (90°F).

Porto Palo Beach is just a 30 minute drive from Sambuca
Porto Palo Beach is just a 30 minute drive from Sambuca.

It is possible to take directions and routes to the main roads using Google maps, with a pinch of salt. However, if you interpret it as a matter of “roads” and deviate from the well-traveled path, the main roads through Sicily are still acceptable. Just a word of caution.

Some of Sicily
Some of Sicily’s roads are impassable without a 4×4.

I believe I haven’t seen the last €2 (or €1) offer of a home in Sambuca. There are still a lot of historic buildings throughout that town, which we will see once the press coverage of the suspect’s death is released.

The shrewd buyer could make a good opportunity to pick up a ready-renovated historic home at a bargain price. With many foreign buyers interested in the project, it is likely that some may decide to sell unfinished or semi-renovated homes that have already been renovated.

This might not be “Little America,” but here is where you can immerse yourself in the Italian lifestyle in a historical village on a very modest budget, getting a cheap home in the Mediterranean sun.