For sale on eBay
THE entire 800 year old medieval hamlet of Pratariccia, which totals 25 run down and abandoned houses has been put up for sale on eBay for €2.5m.
The idyllic Italian hilltop hamlet plus adjoining agricultural land has been uninhabited since the early 1960s.
As time took its toll on the elderly in the village, youngsters moved out in search of work and now it resembles a ghost town, as some of the houses, made from the trademark traditional Tuscan stone have collapsed – and in fairness the eBay add does describe it as being "in need of restoration".
Set in beautiful rolling hills 2,400ft above sea level, Pratariccia, is deep in the Tuscan countryside, just 25 miles east of Florence and close to the region of Italy dubbed Chiantishire for its abundance of British residents and holidaymakers.
The pictures used to illustrate the hamlet show weeds and grass growing out of the abandoned houses and the grazing fields nearby which are included in the sale are also overgrown and could do with being seen to by a tractor.
Nevertheless, the potential for the sight as a lucrative luxury holiday development is clear – although the last 150ft of road that lead to Pratariccia are also in need of some tarmac and tender loving care.
Nearby are the hilltop villages of Bibbiena and Poppi, the latter being famous for its castle with Renaissance frescoes and Latin manuscripts from the Middle Ages and it is also close to the home of the order of the Camaldolesi monks.
Pratariccia borders onto a national park in whose hills lies the source of the river Arno that flows through Florence and across much of west Tuscany before ending in the Mediterranean close to Pisa.
The village, which is now owned by an undisclosed monastic order, was put on eBay earlier this month by estate agent's LPQ Immobiliare based in Prato and so far they have received a "number of interesting bids" and two have fallen through but the sale is still on and offers are being willingly accepted.
Although advertised for sale on the eBay, Pratariccia is not in the bidding section of the auction site but instead in the classified adverts where it is listed as "medieval hamlet for sale" with the asking price €2.5m (down from the initial €5m) and the name of the estate agents.
Carlo Magni, who is handling the sale, said: "It's a unique once in a lifetime opportunity to own your very own Tuscan hamlet – and the price is a complete bargain. Where else would you get all those buildings, land, panoramic view, plus all the history for €2.5 million.
"The place has been uninhabited since the 1960s, up until then around 120 people lived in the hamlet but then as the older generation died out and the economic boom gripped Italy those youngsters that were left moved on and never returned.
"It is currently owned by a group of people who live outside the area and they are looking for a quick sale and to make as much as possible. We have had a couple of bids and two came very close to completion but they fell through so it's still on the market and available.
"I'm an estate agent so it's my job to sell property – I put out all the usual details via the usual outlets but then thought why not use eBay – so many people buy and sell online these days that it has to be worth it.
"I posted the advert two weeks ago and I've had lots of calls about it and I'm hoping to get some viewings arranged over the next few days. I think it has potential as a private hotel or luxury spa and that's what one of the potential buyers wanted to do but it fell through.
"The second time we came close to a sale was when a group of local artists wanted to buy it and turn it into a typical artists village with original labourers and craftsmen but that fell through as well.
"These are difficult times and the people who own it, who have asked me not to mention them or their line of work, are very keen to sell – that's why we have dropped the asking price from the initial five million euro."
Luca Santini, mayor of Stia, the nearest inhabited town, said:"It's a wonderful hamlet with beautiful views across the Tuscan countryside but it could do with some work. Some of the houses have collapsed and others are on the verge of collapse and there is some work to be done.
"If someone with the money to spare invested in the village and rebuilt it they would have a fantastic development and it would generate work for the local economy. Putting the hamlet on the internet is the best way to get publicity so hopefully it will sell quickly."
Two years ago the cash strapped Italian government put up for sale 9,000 properties, worth €4 billion via it's land registry website with palaces, castles, islands and palazzos being offered for sale in a bid to cut the country's growing public debt which stands at trillions.