Woman who bought one of Italy’s ‘one euro houses’ reveals truth behind scheme

Woman who bought one of Italy’s ‘one euro houses’ reveals truth behind scheme

A woman has turned an abandoned Italian “one euro” house into a £384k dream home – with a spa, outdoor kitchen and wine cellar.

Meredith Tabbone, 45, decided to bid on a one euro house on a “whim” after her friend sent her an article on the scheme.

Several small Italian towns have hit the headlines for selling off vacant houses for €1 a pop in the past couple of years.

Meredith Tabbone, 43, heard councils in rural Sicily were auctioning off abandoned houses with a one euro starting bid in a bid to regenerate the village (Meredith Tabbone / SWNS)

The municipalities are offering homes for the symbolic price of €1. They say having these homes improved and occupied in the next few years is worth more to the towns than selling them off at full price.

Meredith threw in a random offer of £4,400 – for a 1600s disused building in Sambuca di Sicilia in Sicily, Italy.

The building had no electricity or running water, and the roof was thick with asbestos.

Meredith bought the home next door for £27,000 and knocked through to create a four bedroom, five bathroom property.

She spent £384k and five years creating her dream vacation house fit with an outdoor kitchen, spa and an outdoor party room.

Meredith’s ‘one euro’ house before it was renovated. (Meredith Tabbone / SWNS)

Meredith, a financial adviser, from Chicago, Illinois, US, said: “The house was in very bad condition – but in many ways, it was everything I expected it to be and more.

“It had so much charm.

“It had such interesting architectural detail – you could really see the history coming through the walls. But it was a fixer-upper, to say the least.

“It was worth it. It turned out well.

“It’s modern but in keeping. It’s a vacation home.”

The outside area of Meredith’s ‘one euro’ house after it was renovated (Meredith Tabbone / SWNS)

Meredith began researching how to get an Italian citizenship in 2016 and discovered her dad Michael’s great-grandfather, Fillippo Tabbone, came from Sambuca di Sicilia – a small village in Sicily.

After reading an article on people bidding on one euro houses in Italy, Meredith threw in a bid in January 2019 and found out she has been successful in May of that year.

She started work on it a month later – spending £661 to remove the roof in an environmentally-safe way.

In August 2020, she bought the home next door via a private sale to knock through and create a 3,000 square foot property.

Meredith said: “When we first saw the house – it was 750 square feet, it had no electricity, running water or windows – and it was thick with asbestos.

“At first, the plan was just to turn it into a small getaway house.

“While we originally just wanted it as a tiny getaway – we’ve turned it into a dream home.”

The kitchen of Meredith’s ‘one euro’ house after it was renovated (Meredith Tabbone / SWNS)

Meredith has bought two guest houses in the same village for £28k in total which will need minor repairs.

She also bought a disused building for £58k, which she’s turning into an art gallery and apartment for artists to stay in.

Meredith is currently gathering the plans and workforce to start renovating the gallery later this year.

Areas in Italy running €1 house schemes

Where you can grab a bargain






Le Marche





After five years of hard work, Meredith’s holiday home was finally completed in April 2024 – and she now spends four months a year out in Italy.

She said: “It was very slow and tedious.

“The sunsets are spectacular.”

Meredith recommends people consider buying a one euro home but said it’s not for the faint hearted.

She said: “I went all in.

“If you can gather the strength it is worth it.”

Source: independent.co.uk