Fancy buying a Tuscan ghost town? Pratariccia, a medieval village perched atop Tuscany's Casentino Valley, is now on sale for the negotiable asking price of €2.5 million (just over $3 million).
The village is currently owned by an undisclosed monastic order that's tried to sell it through traditional real estate agencies for several years. When that didn't work, they turned to a different agency: eBay.
So what do you get for €2.5 million? According to the listing, 25 traditional stone homes and eight acres of pasture.
Carlo Magni, a local estate agent, is handling the sale through eBay's classified section. He admitted that another €1 million ($1.25 million) would be needed to restore the crumbling cottages, provide electricity and add a road.
Right now you can get to within 800 meters (2,625 feet) in a jeep, then you're walking, he told The Guardian.
Some rather unflattering pictures on eBay attest to the property's fixer-upper status. The traditional houses are ramshackle at best and collapsed at worst. Weeds billow out of the stone walls and the pastures beyond could use a date with a tractor.
Nonetheless, the idyllic setting of the hilltop hamlet and adjoining agricultural land shows potential.
It's a stupendous location, 40km (25 miles) from Florence, with hermits still living in the nearby hermitage of Camaldoli and all the castles you'll ever need, dating from when Siena and Arezzo fought over the area, Magni boasted.
Near to Pratariccia are the villages of Bibbiena and Poppi, the latter of which is famous for its 12th century castle. The abandoned town also borders the Casentino Forests National Park. Widely regarded as one of the oldest forests in Europe, its hills hold the source of the River Arno, which runs through Florence and out to the Mediterranean near Pisa.
The hills of Tuscany are riddled with abandoned or semi-abandoned hilltop villages like Pratariccia, and developers are beginning to recognize their tourism potential. Several have been transformed into hotels where each guest gets his or her own cottage. Others have been turned into retirement villages for returning Italian émigrés.
Italy is deep in an economic crisis and needs to sell, said Magni. Finding buyers through the trade press costs, whereas eBay is free and reaches a huge public. It's good for selling small things, but I think we will see a lot more Italian villages and even castles coming up for sale.
The cost of Pratariccia is down from its original asking price of €5 million ($6.2 million), and even that is negotiable. Could Pratariccia become the next great Tuscan resort? It's hard to picture it now, but who knows what it may look like in 10 years' time.
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...