In recent years, as various depopulated towns and villages have scrambled to revitalize their shrinking communities through real estate bargains, buyers from around the world have been acquiring old Italian homes starting at €1.
Massoud Ahmadi and Shelley Spencer decided to purchase a home and perform a total makeover.
When they learned that their offer of €10,150 (about $10,372) for a 100-square-meter palazzo had been accepted, they were overjoyed and immediately set to work to give the house a striking new look.
“It was love at first sight,” Spencer tells CNN. “Sambuca is very clean, with nice old stone pavements reminiscent of those in [Washington, D.C. neighborhood] Georgetown and the street lights at night are very romantic.”
Two years later and well before the three-year deadline set by the local authorities, their Italian refuge is completed.
Ahmadi and Spencer, who both work on international development initiatives, invested about $250,000 to turn the run-down house into a luxurious residence that “looks like a Renaissance mansion.”
The newly refurbished home has stunning marble bathrooms, but the indoor elevator that the couple uses to get between the house’s three levels is unquestionably its most notable feature.
“We want to get older here, do yoga each day and sip coffee out on the terrace with a view of the misty lake,” explains Spencer.
“So we thought it would be great to feel as comfortable as possible by bypassing all those narrow steps, and not having to go up and down four windy staircases several times per day.”
Although a quarter of a million dollars seems like a lot of money for a project of this nature, they believe they spent less money on it than they would have in the U.S. for a similar project.
“Locals welcome us with cakes, and come to my house curious to see what we have done with the ruin,” says Spencer, before revealing that they were recently gifted a “nice bottle of wine” at the local bar.
The house also has a guest suite, a master bedroom and a living room with a modern open kitchen.
Located next to the deserted Arab fortress Fortino di Mazzallakkar, the property has a series of balconies and a panoramic terrace overlooking the hills and Lake Arancio.