Candela: The Italian Town Paying People To Move There

 Silvia Marchetti
  27th-Oct-2017

The mayor of the Italian town of Candela has come up with a practical solution to boost its dwindling population: paying people to become residents. Nicola Gatta wants the small medieval town in Puglia to shine like it did in the 1990s, when more than 8,000 people lived there. Today, there are just 2,700 residents. So, to recover the town's lost grandeur, Mayor Gatta is offering up to 2,000 euros ($2,350) to encourage people to relocate.

"I work each day with passion and commitment to bring Candela back to its ancient splendor," says Gatta. "Up until the 1960s, travelers called it 'Nap'licchie' (Little Naples), for it streets full of wayfarers, tourists, merchants and screaming vendors." These days, the Neapolitan buzz has been replaced by the silence of the surrounding green hills and pristine forests.

The churches that stand at each street corner fill up only to celebrate the very few births that occur here, or the many funerals for elderly residents. This maze of winding picturesque alleys, Baroque buildings and arched passageways is at risk of turning into a ghost town. Most young people have fled in search of a brighter future elsewhere, leaving behind the elders.

However, Gatta is on a desperate crusade to save Candela from dying out. There are dozens of dazzling white houses with panoramic terraces and ornate balconies standing empty, waiting to welcome new residents.

To lure newcomers -- including foreigners -- Gatta's council has opened up its coffers in the hope of boosting the town's appeal. "This is how it works: 800 euros for singles, 1,200 euros for couples, 1,500 to 1,800 euros for three-member families, and over 2,000 euros for families of four to five people," explains Stefano Bascianelli, the mayor's right-hand man. Tax credits on city waste disposal, bills and nurseries could also be offered.

There are three main requirements to receive the cash: New residents must take up residency in Candela, rent a house and have a job with a salary of at least 7,500 euros per year. "We don't want people flocking here thinking they get to live off the town hall's revenues, all new residents must work and have an income," says Bascianelli. Six families from northern Italy have already settled in and another five have applied to move.

The local school janitor used the bonus to have his family join him in Candela. Other new residents have opened a news stand. "It's a quiet and simple lifestyle. No crowds, easy to move around, no traffic nor smog," says photographer Francesco Delvecchio, who moved to Candela from another part of Puglia.

Although he didn't benefit from the bonus, he's since become something of an ambassador for the town's winning assets. "We're right at the crossroads of three gorgeous Italian regions: Campania, Basilicata and Molise, with all the wonders each offers at hand."

Candela natives are open and welcoming, happy to rub shoulders with the few newcomers living in town. Some of Puglia's top beaches are just an hour drive away from the town, while the "Trasonna," a 35-centimeter-wide alley has turned into a tourist attraction.

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Category: Travel
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