Italy is giving away over 100 castles for free but there’s a catch

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Why buy a home in Toronto for the average $770,745 when you can snag an Italian castle for free?

No, that’s not a joke — the Italian government is actually looking to give away 103 prime properties with ancient real estate to anyone who’s interested, Condé Nast Traveler reports.

Among the fortresses up for grabs are the 13th-century Castello di Montefiore in the Marche region, the 11th-century Castello di Blera in Lazio and the Orsini-Odescalchi in Bracciano, where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were married in 2006. Other choices include monasteries, ancient inns and rural farmhouses.

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Most of the properties, Condé Nast Traveler notes, are located along the Appian Way, a road that runs from Rome to Brindisi in the south. Others are found next to the Via Francigena, a route that connects Rome to the northern parts of the country.

But there’s a catch.

Those looking to be the king or queen of these castles must submit a solid plan to the government on how they plan to turn the property into a “functioning heritage site for tourists,” Condé Nast Traveler says.

The giveaway, The Independent reports, is part of Italy’s Strategic Tourism Plan and is the brainchild of the State Property Agency and Ministry of Cultural Heritage. The idea is to help ease the tourism burden on popular cities like Venice by attracting tourists to more remote areas of the country.

“The project will promote and support the development of the slow tourism sector,” Roberto Reggi from the State property Agency told The Local. “The goal is for private and public buildings which are no longer used to be transformed into facilities for pilgrims, hikers, tourists and cyclists.”

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Whoever’s chosen to get a property will be given the rights to the spot for nine years with the option to renew for another nine years afterwards. And if the government really likes an idea that was submitted, the new owners will be given a 50-year lease.

But don’t be discouraged if your proposal is turned down this round — the government plans on giving away an additional 200 buildings over the next two years.

This isn’t the first time Italy has given away its properties like it was Oprah.

Over the years, the government has auctioned off other castles, monasteries, palaces and lighthouses to anyone who could convert them into hotels and other tourism businesses. According to the Telegraph, it’s been a way for the country to tackle its mounting public debt.

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