An underpopulated region of Italy has launched a scheme to boost its flailing economy, a bold plan to pay visitors a monthly figure to live in area full time.

Molise, a region of Southern Italy located east of Rome, will offer visitors €700 per month across a three year period to live in one of the villages. The catch, however, is that the selected person must pledge to open a business in the area in order to boost its local economy.

Donato Toma, the president of Molise, said: “If we had offered funding, it would have been yet another charity gesture,” in an interview with The Guardian. “We wanted to do more; we wanted people to invest here. They can open any sort of activity: a bread shop, a stationery shop, a restaurant, anything. It’s a way to breathe life into our towns while also increasing the population.”

“It’s not just a matter of increasing the population. People also need infrastructure and a reason to stay, otherwise we’ll end up back where we started in a few years,” he added.

As the population of the region continues to drop, specific villages within it dwindle further. The plan outlined by Toma would only apply to towns with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants.

Detailing further, regional councillor Antonio Tedeschi, who came up with the idea, said: “The goal is to breathe new life and revamp the local economy,” in a separate interview with CNN. “Newcomers are free to kick-start anything they please in order to get our financial support: a small inn, restaurant, bar, B&B, a tiny rural farm, artisan boutique, library or shop selling local gourmet excellences.”

He added: “I want my region to undergo a renaissance and avoid its authentic villages turning into ghost towns. We need to safeguard our roots.”

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