Recent programs have boosted previously empty Italian homes, filling them with happy homebuyers. Thanks to the schemes, almost every Italian village found a new wave of popularity – and one man went as far as buying one!
Coming Back To An Old Italian Village
Cesidio Di Ciacca, a Scottish businessman, had a bright idea for investing – he bought a full Italian village. Yet, his goal wasn’t acquiring more money. Instead, Di Ciacca dove deep into his historical roots, renovating Borgo I Ciacca that’s named after his family. A rural town, it is located in the wild region of Ciociaria, between Rome and Naples. “At the turn of the 20th century my grandparents Cesidio and Marietta left the village in search of a better future,” Di Ciacca shared with CNN. “They migrated to Scotland, leaving behind their home village which fell into oblivion for half a century. It was a ghost place. I started recovering it more than 10 years ago. It was a huge task but now it is finally alive again.” Working as a lawyer and consultant, he wanted to put as many resources as possible into the village’s local economy.
Thanks to Di Ciacca, the town got its second chance to live. Cracked houses turned into shining painted homes full of positivity and coziness. Some houses serve as a wine canteen, a conference room, and a library, while others turned into two suites for guests or tourists. The vineyards there grow Maturano grapes, a unique variety belonging to Borgo I Ciacca. In the process of renovating, Di Ciacca found a lot of remains of the older life, including old nails in the walls, spoons, coins, and religious amulets.
Di Ciacca himself always longed for the winemaker lifestyle despite being born in the village next to Edinburgh. “My family never lost touch with its origins,” he says. “Each summer, as a kid, my parents would bring me here to visit our relatives. As I grew up my visits became more frequent until I decided to embark on a life mission to fully reconnect with my roots and bring back from the grave our family borgo.” To get a hold of the whole village, he had to track down all 140 property owners. “The village was fragmented and split up between so many heirs who often just possessed a corner of one house, a bit of the pasture, woodland or farmland, or just an olive tree,” Di Ciacca said.
“It took me years to buy back all shares, offering each little owner a price at market value of the land, even if the land parcel was not worth it, so they all had one same offer.” The current owner of the village said that it cost way too much, calling it “a crazy initiative.” Later on, Di Ciacca decided to turn his land into a real business: now, the village hosts a cultural center, a conference room for studies, a canteen, a wine-tasting space, and a big kitchen. That said, the wine made in Borgo I Ciacca is outstanding. Since the first harvest, it has won three international silver prizes. In 2022, the bottles are already exported abroad.
Di Ciacca’s whole family spends most of the year in the village, including his wife, son, daughter, and grandchildren.