Is there any place more romantic than the Italian countryside? Even if you’ve never had a chance to travel to Europe, the sun-drenched hills and Tuscan sun are something everyone has dreamed about at one point or another.

Now, those dreams can become reality! That’s right: with just a little bit of planning and a plane ticket, you can live in your very own Italian castle—free of charge.

You read that correctly. The Italian government is literally giving away hundreds of historic castles to those who apply. But before you prepare to live the dream, you should know that there’s one little catch…

Get ready to pack your bags! One hundred historic Italian buildings—including ancient castles, old houses, monasteries, towers, and farmhouses—are all being given away completely free of charge. Yup, that’s right: you can own your very own castle in Italy for no cost!

Ah, but like most things, there is a catch. While you could very well get your very own palace in which to dwell, those who take on ownership of these buildings are obligated to convert it into a tourist facility, such as a hotel or spa. It’s all part of a new initiative to increase tourism in the country.

The Italian government hopes that offering up these properties to private owners will help take the stress off of Italy’s other major tourist destinations, like Rome, Venice, Milan, and Florence, and to help people explore other parts of Italy.

This is all an initiative started by the State Property Agency. They announced that the goal of this project is to promote the lesser-known areas of Italy, and they hope it will help spur spending in the “slow tourism center.”

About half of the historic buildings that are available to be given away are situated on historic or religious walking routes that the agency thinks could be very popular with tourists if they are easier to access. The other half are located along bicycle paths.

There are a few major historic pilgrimage routes that are part of the project, too. They include properties that are located along the ancient Appian Way and the Via Franciegna, which are two of the oldest roads in the world.

The Appian Way runs for more than 350 miles. While sections of it have been destroyed simply through the passage of time, it still includes a tremendous number of beautiful historic buildings that have been otherwise forgotten.

You don’t need to be Italian to apply for one of these properties, either! Virtually anyone is eligible to apply to transform one of these sites into a tourist property. Every owner does need to prove they have solid plans for how they plan to restore their respective building.

So, while the property itself might be free, you will have to put in quite a chunk of change getting it into shape for the visiting tourists. You’ll save money, of course, but starting a business isn’t cheap—and this project isn’t just an easy way to live abroad!

If your application is approved after it’s been evaluated, you will be offered a nine-year lease with the option to renew for nine more years. Some applicants could even wind up with a 50-year-long lease if things work out for the business!

So now that you know the details, it’s time to go ahead and start planning your new Italian spa on the Appian Way! This is such an ingenious way of expanding tourism in the lesser trafficked parts of the country.

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