Source: Agenzia del Demanio.

How to Get a Castle in Italy — Free of Charge

Y ou have your choice of a total of 103 historic buildings — including not only castles; but also towers, monasteries, villas, inns, schools, old houses and farmhouses — which are located along walking trails and bicycle routes considered off the beaten path and are available for the asking from the Agenzia del Demanio and Ministry of Cultural Heritage of Italy…

How to Get a Castle in Italy — Free of Charge

…but of course, there are two stipulations about which you should know prior to completing your application for this program by the deadline of Monday, June 26, 2017:

  • You must submit a clear plan of how you will restore and transform the structure you want into a facility which is accessible to the public for the purpose of increasing tourism — such as converting the building into a hotel, restaurant, spa, or other type of tourist facility
  • If your plan is approved, you will be granted a lease for nine years, with an option to extend the agreement for another nine years upon its expiration — and if your plan is considered exceptional, you might actually be granted a lease of 50 years

Properties Which are Available

The properties of this project included in the 2017 campaign are located along seven trails and other local areas — with the links leading to documents in Italian with maps and photographs of the buildings:

  • Ciclopista del Sole 32 properties
    Source: Agenzia del Demanio.

    Known in English as Cyclops of the Sun, the route — which is approximately 3,000 kilometers in length — crosses twelve regions and 414 municipalities from the north to the south from the Brennero to Santa Teresa di Gallura.

  • Via Francigena 18 properties
    Source: Agenzia del Demanio.

    The way for the pilgrims to reach Rome from northern Europe and to sail from Puglia to the Holy Land along almost 4,000 kilometers — and this route crosses ten regions and greater than 240 municipalities.

  • Ciclovia VenTo 15 properties
    Source: Agenzia del Demanio.

    From Venice to Turin by bicycle on the banks of the Po River, this route crosses Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Lombardy and Piedmont; and it passes through 120 municipalities.

  • Ciclovia Acqua 11 properties
    Source: Agenzia del Demanio.

    Approximately 500 kilometers and 68 municipalities along the main canal of the Pugliese Aqueduct on roads already viable through Campania, Basilicata and Puglia.

  • Via Appia Nine properties
    Source: Agenzia del Demanio.

    Also known as the Appian Way, this historic Roman road leading to the Apulian ports is nearly 600 kilometers long and crosses Lazio, Campania, Basilicata and Puglia, passing through 39 municipalities and connecting Rome with Brindisi on the southern coast.

  • Cammino di Francesco Three properties
    Source: Agenzia del Demanio.

    Cultural and spiritual itinerary linked to the Saint of Assisi: greater than 450 kilometers through Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio for visitors to discover hermitages and shrines, passing through 36 municipalities.

  • Cammino di San Benedetto One property
    Source: Agenzia del Demanio.

    From Umbria to Campania on the trails of San Benedetto da Norcia in 20 stages, walking for about 400 kilometers.

  • Locally recognized routes 14 properties
    Source: Agenzia del Demanio.

    Historical-religious and cyclopedonal traces — such as the Celestial Path, the Micaelic Path, the Royal Tratturo Magno, the Regionale Tratturo Pescasseroli – Candela, Via Lauretana, the Alps Adriatic and the Adriatic.

Why Give Away Leases to Historic Buildings?

“Floods were once the greatest threat to Venice”, according to this article written by Simon Worrall of National Geographic. “That danger has not receded, but the tsunami of tourists pouring into the city could cause greater harm, argues Salvatore Settis in his new book, If Venice Dies. Venetians are being driven out of the city by skyrocketing rent while giant cruise ships dwarf the skyline, risking a disaster like the Costa Concordia, the boat that sank off the Tuscan coast. There’s even talk of building a Venice theme park just outside the city.”

Venice is not the only city or region in Italy which is struggling with how to limit the number of visitors while preserving their heritage and culture. Other areas include — but are not limited to — the Amalfi Coast, Florence and Cinque Terre; and reports of residents moving out of these areas is a cause for concern. There have also been reports of abuses committed by tourists at some of these legendary locations — including urinating in public fountains and driving in areas where motorized vehicles are not permitted.

As a public-private partnership tool for entrepreneurs, companies, cooperatives and associations which are predominantly comprised of people 40 years of age and younger to provide free leases for the renovation of historic public buildings, the government of Italy is hoping to use what it considers a strategic tourist plan called Cammini e Percorsi — roughly translated as paths and routes; and an English language version of the plan is “coming soon” — to tempt visitors away from the overcrowded city centers and sites of interest while simultaneously promoting pedestrian, bicycle and motorized paths and trails along destinations which are not explored as much and have the potential to attract tourists.

Many of the buildings in the Cammini e Percorsi plan are centuries old and are in a state of disrepair, needing to be renovated.


If you miss the aforementioned deadline next month, do not be concerned: once the initial 103 buildings are leased in 2017, an additional 200 properties are set to be included in the Cammini e Percorsi project over the course of the next two years…

…but even though the lease will not cost you a penny, the same cannot be said for the renovations needed — and some of the buildings will require extensive work.

Still, if your dream is to operate a lodging facility or eatery or some other venue which would interest tourists, this could be your opportunity.

Castello di Montefiore was built in the 13th century to defend the town of Recanati against attacks from nearby adjacent towns. Source: Agenzia del Demanio.

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