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Live Rent Free in a Restored “1 Euro” Sicilian Airbnb for a Year

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The abandoned home has been fully renovated by Italian architectural firm Studio Didea.

Courtesy of Airbnb/Claudia Zalla

The abandoned home has been fully renovated by Italian architectural firm Studio Didea.

Airbnb restored an abandoned house in Sambuca and is now looking for a host to move in this summer.

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Sure, we’ve all fantasized about buying and renovating one of those abandoned houses in Italy for 1 euro. But if you’re like me, you don’t know the first thing about how to pull off renovations abroad (or, let’s be real, anywhere). Now you don’t have to: Airbnb is looking for a candidate to live in one of those homes—rent free!—in the Sicilian town of Sambuca for a year starting June 30, 2022. 

Thankfully, the home has already been fully renovated and modernized by the Italian architectural firm Studio Didea. The only catch is that you’ll also need to welcome guests as the Airbnb host of this three-story home located in the 6,000-person village 50 miles south of Palermo.

Only one candidate will be selected, but that person can bring their partner, friend, or family (up to two adults and two children total) to live with them. In addition to living rent free, they will also get to retain all the earnings from hosting on Airbnb. To sweeten the deal, Airbnb will also arrange and pay for flights and transfers to Sambuca.

Living quarters for the host and Airbnb guests are on separate floors of the renovated house.

What the house is like

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The fully renovated house has three floors, giving the selected host and the paying Airbnb guests plenty of space to spread out. On the ground floor, you’ll find a small living room and a king-size bedroom with an en suite bathroom. On the second floor, there’s another living room, the kitchen, a work space, as well as another bathroom and king-size bedroom. The top floor offers another living space with a queen-size sofa bed.

The selected host gets to choose which bedroom they’ll call home for the year. The other king-size bedroom will be the one listed for guests on Airbnb.

The mountain village of Sambuca is about a 50-mile drive south of Palermo.

Where you’ll be

This Airbnb isn’t the only “1 Euro House” that was renovated in Sambuca. Back in 2019, Sambuca launched an entire campaign to sell abandoned houses for 1 euro, in order to draw younger generations back to the village after years of population decline.

In addition to engaging with their Airbnb guests, the ideal candidate for this hosting gig is someone who would be excited to get to know their neighbors in town, too.

“We’re looking for someone who wants to live with the local population and participate in all the important moments of the community, from the grape harvest to olive picking,” Leonardo Ciaccio, mayor of Sambuca di Sicilia, told Airbnb.

For those who travel to eat, we already have a local restaurant recommendation for you: The family-style cuisine at farm-to-table restaurant Antico Mulino was one of the best meals of our 2019 travels, according to Rosalie Tinelli, AFAR’s senior audience development and social media manager.

“Simple, fresh ingredients from the surrounding farm are showcased in various antipasto plates piled with freshly cured meats and still-warm cheeses, handmade pasta with wild boar ragù, platters of grilled meats, stuffed vegetables—it would be impossible to list everything we ate,” Tinelli said. “The restaurant was filled with noisy, laughing families around long tables, enjoying each marathon course.”

While the interiors have been modernized, the exterior of the house has been restored in a traditional manner.

How to apply

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Visit airbnb.com/1eurohouse to submit your application with a short essay (250 words max!) about why you want to move to Sicily and be the host. The deadline for applications is February 18, 2022.

In order to qualify, you must be 18 years of age or older. Applicants must be available to move to Sambuca starting June 30, 2022. Although you’ll be free to travel or return home, you must be able to live there and host guests for at least three consecutive months. The hosting commitment also requires you to welcome Airbnb guests for a minimum of nine months of the year you live there.

While conversational English is a must, Italian language skills are merely a plus to apply. In fact, during the first month of their stay, the selected host will have the opportunity to take Italian language classes and cooking classes given by a local mentor.

In terms of COVID regulations, the selected host (along with their friends and family who join them) will be expected to follow local Italian health and travel protocols. For the most up-to-date requirements, visit italia.it/en/covid19.

>> Next: Into the Vines: The Story of Sicily’s Top Winemakers

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