Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cash-for-Castles: Italy sells off historic sites to plug budget holes

Oct. 14, 2013

Photo by Peter Heeling
Photo by Peter Heeling

A Grand Inquisitor’s villa, a Pope’s fort and a Venetian island will be sold off to fill Italy’s depleted state coffers, local media reports. It’s hoped the 50 historic sites will raise 500 million euros needed to obey strict EU austerity rules.

The plan to offer some of Italy’s state-owned real estate to private investors is part of an emergency decree aimed at keeping the country’s 2013 budget deficit within 3 percent threshold set by Brussels, the Corriere della Serra newspaper reports.

Apart from receiving direct revenue from the sell-offs, Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s government is hoping the castles and villas will be converted into hotels, restaurants and museums, creating much-needed jobs for the country’s struggling economy.

Greece, another European country under tough EU-imposed austerity rules, last year also enacted a similar sell-off, offering some if its islands, beaches and ski resorts to private buyers. Italy sold off several lighthouses on the island of Sardinia last year.

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