Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Italy Pays You up to €44,000 for Relaxed Lifestyle

GlobalEAT - Santo Stefano di Sessanio Village in Italy offers up to €44,000 for a new lifestyle
Tourism has replaced agriculture and wool production as the main economic activity. (Municipal of Santo Stefano di Sessanio)

Santo Stefano di Sessanio Village: a picturesque, medieval village in Abruzzo, Italy is paying you to establish a home and business there.

Perched on a hill, Santo Stefano di Sessanio is surrounded by magnificent views of Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park in Italy’s southern L’Aquila province. 

The fortified village is about a two-hour drive from Rome, which is 154 kilometres (96 miles) away.  It’s a popular weekend and summer getaway.

Beauty, Architectural Heritage, and Food

Ancient stone buildings overhang narrow cobbled lanes interspersed with quaint piazzas and antiquated architecture. Most structures date back to the 11th through the 15th centuries. 

In Roman times, the village was named Sessanio or Sextantia in honour of the village’s patron saint.

GlobalEAT - Santo Stefano di Sessanio Village in Italy offers up to €44,000 for a new lifestyle
The 2009 earthquake damaged the town’s iconic Medici Tower and 17th-century Church of the Madonna del Lago. (Municipal of Santo Stefano di Sessanio)

Historic structures include the Churches of Santa Maria, Santo Stefano, Santa Maria delle Grazie, and the ruins of the Palazzo Anelli.  Charming boutiques, art galleries, and eateries cluster around popular tourist spots. 

The Slow Food movement recognized Santo Stefano di Sessanio for its sustainable agriculture, particularly its lenticchie. These tiny, round, and brown-violet lentils flourish only on the slopes of the Gran Sasso. 

They do not require soaking before cooking.  The community gathers every September to celebrate the annual lentil festival, Sagra delle Lenticchie.

Related:  Why are Young Italians Returning to Farming?

Grants for Lease of New Life

Like many Italian villages, the population has declined significantly as young people abandon their homes in pursuit of better opportunities in big cities.  

The current population is 115 people.  Of these, 41 residents are over 65, and 13 are under the age of 20.

To attract new residents to sustain and give the village a new lease of life, the municipality is offering up to 44,000 euros to individuals who want to move to Santo Stefano di Sessanio

The project provides a grant of 8,000 euros ($9,500 US) per year for a maximum of three years.  Selected candidates will also get a place to reside for a “symbolic” rent to be determined by the town council. 

A one-time non-repayable grant of up to 20,000 euros ($24,000 US) is offered for a business start-up.  Together, the total amounts to 44,000 euros ($52,000 US). 

Application Criteria

Applicant must be

  • A non-resident Italian, or EU citizen, or citizen of third countries with an EC long-term residence permit issued for an indefinite period (formerly “residence card”)
  • Age between18 to 40 years old with no criminal record
  • Intend to transfer their residency for a minimum of five years
  • Priority categories:
    1. Tourist, sports/cultural guide
    2. Tourist information staff
    3. Cleaner
    4. General maintenance technician
    5. Retail drugstore owner
    6. People who can promote local food products

The application deadline is November 15, 2020.  For details: Click here.

Italian residents can apply if they come from municipalities with less than 2,000 residents, as of January 01, 2020

Mayor Fabio Santavicca told CNN Travel about 1,500 people have applied since the project launched on October 15.  His “council wants to keep numbers to around 10 people, or five couples”.