Salemi 2012 update.
Ciao, you maybe new here or re-visiting...and as a lot of
you faithful followers have been asking for updates on the Salemi regeneration
project in Sicily, Italy, which offers some of the historic town centre
properties at the nominal value of 1 euro.....be you a first time visitor or simply
looking for recent news it is an appropriate time to give an update....further
to very recent developments.
Back in the summer of 2008, the newly elected mayor of
Salemi launched an adventurous regeneration project. Some history....The
historic town centre of Salemi, devastated by an earthquake over 40 years ago had
been pretty much abandoned. Many of the houses left as ruins. Local residents
moved out to the Salemi new town and further afield and the old town centre became
a ghost town. Slowly but surely some good hearted locals had renovated some of
the historic palaces and old town houses on the narrow cobbled lanes of this
hilltop town and life commenced to return to the picturesque old town centre.
Then one day, now over 4 years ago, a famous Italian TV art
critic personality appeared as the new mayor, a very radical change for a
traditional Sicilian town. He offered lots of new initiatives, from art &
literature appreciation, regeneration, youth employment, local culinary awareness,
historic values, debate, tourism, religion, museums and his internationally
famous 1 euro house regeneration project. The latter an ingenious idea in that
the local inward investment had reached its maximum but there was still a lot
more to do to the old town to make it a true historic Mecca. So he decided to
offer some of the old ruins at the nominal value of 1 euro to encourage
international inward investment.
Since that day till now the 1 euro house regeneration
project of Salemi continues. Yes admittedly there have been many administrative
mountains to climb, in fact to date no one has had the chance to actually
acquire one of these properties, but most of the preparation of the project is
finally been concluded.
Over the past few years many people from all regions of the
globe have been attracted to Salemi. It offers a unique beauty that only by
visiting and staying here can be appreciated. The historic town centre is dominated
by the Norman castle, numerous churches, cobbled narrow streets, local stone
buildings, traditional architecture, charming squares, breath taking views
across the valleys towards the seaside and most of all.....the genuine warm
& hospitable locals, whom open their doors & hearts to welcome visitors.
Salemi was the first capital of Italy in 1860, if only for a
few days. Here in Salemi, Garibaldi, from the town hall balcony in Piazza
Dittatura, declared a united Italy on May 14th 1860. Sicily dominated
by many conquerors, over the centuries, have left their mark on Salemi, with global
religions having their dedicated quarters of the old town, the Muslim, the
Jewish and the Christian quarters, all living in harmony. In fact only recently
has a project to build a mosque been discussed between the town’s
administration and Qatar.
Salemi is undergoing many changes both socially and
culturally. Cultural changes in Sicily often imply understanding and dealing
with the old boy’s school & local business network, often referred to as
the mafia. In fact the modern mayor has had a few issues with the so called mafia,
but he showed them appreciation by creating a Mafia museum. An international,
modern and challenging museum located in the old Jesuit’s buildings in the centre
For better or worse the current mayor after having completed
many of his projects has decided to move on to pastures new and will be leaving
prior to been able to see his visionary 1 euro house regeneration project start
to become a reality.
Only time will now tell, when and if, the project will materialise
the ex-mayor’s futuristic vision of a regenerated historic multi cultural Sicilian
I hope it will happen soon.
p.s. this is not the first time the mayor has threatened to
leave, so who knows.... he may still be here in the future to make the town “an
offer it cannot refuse”.