A CASTLE, A MIRACLE AND HOMES AT 1 EURO! LET’S DISCOVER MAENZA
he Case a 1 Euro trend continues in Italy. Our readers may remember other articles about this scheme, dedicated to smaller — but equally charming — villages and hamlets around the country that put houses on sale for the symbolic price of just over 1 USD. The goal? Attracting people and bringing a new lease of life to local communities.
While the homes are, more often than not, in need of some major TLC, and guarantees — from monetary investment in the property, to residence in the chosen village for a number of years — are usually required to make the deal, the project remains a great opportunity, especially for those seeking a new beginning, or are tired of living in the city.
And in these times of fear and insecurity created by the ongoing pandemic, slowing down the pace and embracing a less frenetic lifestyle in the countryside is, in fact, a change many people have been making. So why not take it a step further and go to Italy?
If you visit the project’s webpage (www.1eurohouses.com), you’ll be able to access the full list of all participating villages and, if it’s true that the our beautiful South and islands feature more heavily than other parts of the country, northern regions like Liguria, Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta are also present, along with people’s favorite Tuscany and quaint Marche and Abruzzo.
Lazio, the region of our capital, is however new to the project, having joined it only recently with the small medieval hamlet of Maenza, located some 90 minutes from Rome and 30 from the county capital of Latina. Surrounded by oak and chestnut woods, perched on top of a hill with a breathtaking view on Mount Gemma, Mount Sentinella, Mount Mattarese and the delicate hills of southern Lazio, Maenza is believed to have been founded as early as the 11th century BC, by ancient Italic people devoted to sheep farming.
The Case a 1 Euroinitiative is here part of a wider project, the Patto per il Centro Storico, ambitiously created by the town council to bring new life to the village and safeguard its historical and architectural beauty.
Maenza is, in many ways, a typical Italian countryside village: medieval in structure and layout, its stone houses connect to one another through a maze of alleys and little squares, opening in front of ancient churches. The local castle, known as the Castello Baronale, was built in 1500 by the Counts of Ceccano, in the same location where once a watchtower stood and it is beautifully preserved; charming and just as significant historically is the Loggia dei Mercanti, a medieval covered square, ideated to offer shelter to all travelers and merchants who’d have to stay in town after the gates were shut for the night.
Other important aristocratic families followed the Ceccanos, including the Borgias, the Dora Pamphiljs and the Borgheses, yet it is their name to remain attached most strongly to the village and not only because of their castle. Indeed, it is during the Ceccanos’ dominion over Maenza that a miraculous deed took place, thanks to one of the most important of all Catholic saints, Doctor of the Church and philosopher Thomas Aquinas. His niece Francesca used to live in town and good Thomas would often pay her visit; in one of such occasions, he fell severely ill and — unsurprisingly, as he was quite a keen eater — asked for a plate of herrings to gain some strength back. The fish was difficult to find and hopes to satisfy Aquinas’ appetite for it were little, when Maenza fishmonger noticed that a full basket of locally sourced fish had miraculously and suddenly turned into herrings. Thomas had just made his very first miracle, and his health was soon established anew.
But moving to Maenza is not only for history and architecture lovers, because the village is keen on organizing lively fairs and traditional sagre dedicated to local produce like truffles and cherries or traditional dishes like crespelle, thin pancakes similar to crepes. Famous is also the Festival Internazionale del Folklore, that takes place every year in July.
Maenza is only one of the new Case a 1 Euro entries. You may also be familiar with another village that recently adhered to the initiative: Triora, Italy’s own witches’ borough. Rich in history, Triora is about one hour away from glamorous Sanremo, the pearl of Liguria’s Riviera dei Fiori. It is known for its delicious bread and, of course, the infamous witch trials that took place there at the end of the 16th century. Locals have long embraced the supernatural aura many visitors associate to their abode, a bit like the people of Salem did in the US. Just like in Salem, Triora’s “witches” were innocent people, victims of hysteria and malevolence, who have been today rehabilitated fully.
Whether you like medieval history or paranormal encounters, it looks like there are homes available for the price of a coffee around Italy waiting for you. If you’re up for some home renovation and a change of life, this may be a thought worth making.