To boost tourism, Italy is looking towards abandoned castles, fortresses and prisons -- in order to turn them into luxury hotels.
Italy, famous for its fashion and coffee, has suffered at the hands of the recession and is now seeking ways to entice more tourists to the country. By using the country's existing resources, the government hopes that remodelling a number of abandoned -- but historical -- sites may help trim away some of Italy's 1.9 trillion debt.
Proprietors interested in taking on a castle or a prison of their very own can view a shortlist of potential properties set up by the Italian government. Leases will initially last for 50 years, with potential extensions, although the abandoned properties will no doubt cost millions to convert.
Some of the sites on offer include islands in Venice's lagoon, a seafront castle near Rome, the Santo Stefano prison on the island of Ventotene and a former mental health hospital once used as a burial site for plague victims.
Italy's Agenzia del Demanio -- the State Property Agency -- has shortlisted 63 buildings in total, but if the scheme is a success, then as many as 1,000 could be added to the books. Negotiations for some properties are already underway.
Domenico Arcuri from investment firm Invitalia told Skrift:
"For 30 years everyone has been saying that tourism is fundamental for Italy, but during those 30 years we have been overtaken by other countries. We plan to reverse that trend and to make use of these heritage buildings, which have an immense value."
Image credit: Agenzia del Demanio
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com