Fancy a castle? Do it up, and it's yours for free
IT sounds like an offer too good to refuse - Italy is giving away for free more than 100 historic monasteries, castles, stone towers, inns and railway stations.
Many of the properties are situated along historic pilgrimage routes that the government wants to promote, just as Spain attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists along the famous Way of St James, which leads to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela.
The initiative, announced by the state property agency, aims to pump new life into struggling rural areas.
There is, however, a catch. Many of the 103 properties are crumbling, having been abandoned for decades, and new owners will be expected to restore them out of their own pocket. Prospective householders will have to show plans of how they will renovate the buildings and turn them into businesses to boost tourism - such as hotels, restaurants, bed and breakfasts and craft workshops.
The buildings on offer include farmhouses, monasteries and castles, such as the 13th-century Castello di Montefiore in the Marche region, Castello di Blera in Lazio and a former school in Puglia.
More than 40 of the properties are on historic walking routes or pilgrimage trails, including the Appian Way, the ancient road that once led from Rome to the Adriatic coast, the Via Francigena, which led from Paris to Rome, and the Way of St Benedict, a pilgrimage route through Umbria.