NEWS » Is Italy being sold piece by piece to cut its debt?

Is Italy being sold piece by piece to cut its debt?

Houses, villages islands and now castles, monasteries, palaces and lighthouses are being auctioned.  Agenzia del Demanio, and the Agency of State Property are handling auctions as part of a Government's long term plan  to collect more than €2 billion (£1.46 billion) by 2017.  Among the foreign investors Qatar is the most interested.

Private investors will be given leases of up to 50 years on the historic properties, in return for converting them into luxury resorts or boutique hotels.


The lighthouses on lease are situated in some of Italy’s most beautiful areas, from the northern coast of Sardinia to the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples.

 

Of the nearly 700 assets, 92 are in the north-western region of Piedmont, 73 in Tuscany, 52 in Sicily and seven in Sardinia.

Not all the properties are destined to become upmarket accommodation – an old army barracks in Rome is expected to become a scientific research institute, while a barracks in Bologna could be transformed into a “City of Science”.

Although this is the biggest collection of properties to be offered to the private sector, a few have already been leased in the past few years such as a 19th century lighthouse, the Capo Spartivento, which lies 30 miles from the regional capital of Cagliari, has been turned into a luxurious boutique hotel.  Also Villa Tolomei, a grand, 300-year-old residence near Florence, was turned into a 30-room luxury hotel.

Moreover, 10 lighthouses: Capo d’Orso (Sardinia), Domus de Maria (Sardinia), Capo Comino (Sardinia), Ustica (Sicily), Augusta (Sicily), Levanzo (Sicily) Ischia (Campania). They all offer magnificent views of beaches and bays on remote islands or isolated parts of the coast. 

The Punta Cavazzi lighthouse is located on the tiny island of Ustica, off Sicily, which is surrounded by one of Italy’s first marine reserves.

A long-term lease will be offered on the Capo Comino lighthouse (Alamy), while the Brucoli lighthouse is situated on a headland between Catania and Syracuse in eastern Sicily, and Capo Grosso lighthouse is located on Levanzo, off Trapani, in western Sicily.

Two of the lighthouses are on the island of Giglio, which gained the attention of the international media after the Costa Concordia disaster in 2012.
  
The Italian Government reassured that they are not selling Italy’s national heritage but just offering long-term concessions. The leases will be for a maximum of 50 years on properties which need a lot of substantial restoration.
 
Turning lighthouses into accommodation might result into generating profit as has happened in other parts of Europe, USA, Canada and Australia.

 

Giulia Lombardo

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