Gambarogno: The latest Swiss village to sell houses for one franc

Stone houses in Foroglio, Switzerland similar to those on offer in Gambarogno.  Photo by Kuno Schweizer on Unsplash
Stone houses in Foroglio, Switzerland similar to those on offer in Gambarogno. Photo by Kuno Schweizer on Unsplash
The southern Swiss town of Gambarogno, located on the shores of Lake Maggiore, has become the latest village to offer houses for one franc.

The stone houses, known in Italian as rustici, are situated on the hillside with a view of the lake. 

Like most free things in life however, there is a catch. 

The houses, while cheap to buy, require a significant amount of investment in renovation, with the local council needing to approve any renovation plans before a deal can be done. 

Wanting to make it clear that the houses are not ready to be lived in tomorrow, the local council has advertised them under the motto “buy a dilapidated rustico for a symbolic franc”. 

The region, which is on the southern side of the lake opposite Locarno, has become more popular in recent years as people have holidayed domestically due to the Covid pandemic. 

Deals like this are common place in Italy and Spain, but they have become more prevalent in Switzerland in recent years. 

The village of Monti Scìaga, just a few minutes away, was the last to offer one franc homes, doing so to great international media attention in 2019. 

READ MORE: Swiss village plans to sell ‘houses for one franc’

The sun sets behind a jetty in Magadino in Gambarogno, Switzerland.   Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

The sun sets in Magadino in Gambarogno, Switzerland. Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

What’s the catch? 

The mayor of Gambarogno said the council has been surprised by the emphatic response with hundreds of contacts already, although he said it appeared that many people appeared not to understand how much effort was needed when taking over the apartments. 

“We did not expect so much interest,” Mayor Gianluigi Della Santa told SRF. 

“Perhaps it was not clear to many of what it would mean for them if they were to buy a one-franc rustico.”

The renovations are likely to cost tens of thousands of francs, with the local council needing to approve plans to make sure they are sufficient. 

While Della Santa said either individuals or foundations could purchase the stone houses, only those who showed a true interest in the region – as well as a commitment to learn Italian – would be approved. 

“I have nothing against German-speaking Swiss tourists who buy a rustico,” Della Santa told SRF.  

“But I don’t like to see people coming who have absolutely no desire to integrate, who don’t speak a single word of Italian. 

“Anyone who buys a one-franc rustico must be interested in the history of the place. This is not for people who just want a holiday home in the sun.”

Contact details for the Comune di Gambarogno can be found here. 

 


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