Ghost town: The village - comprising about 11 stone buildings, including a crumbling 13th century church - has been abandoned for 30 years
Historic site: Records of the settlement go back to 1059, but in recent times the area has been severely depopulated by the decline in traditional sheep farming
Tired of overpriced, pokey English townhouses? If you can raise a cool half-million you can now get your hands on an entire Italian mountain village, with change to spare.
The historic village of Valle Piola, set in wild and mountainous terrain at the heart of the Gran Sasso national park, Abruzzo, is up for sale for just €550,000 (£482,000).
But buyers beware, the village - comprising about 11 stone buildings, including a crumbling 13th century church - has been abandoned for 30 years and needs a little work.
The local council, along with a pensioner who owns some of the buildings, has put the village on the market because there are no public funds to restore it - or even to protect it from vandals.
They want a buyer to come forward and breath new life into the hamlet, but they have warned they have no idea how much a refurbishment would cost.
Buffeted by snow and gales in the winter and baked by the sun during long, dry summers, Valle Piola sits in a natural amphiteatre, surrounded by the Apennines, and more than 3,000ft above sea level.
Records of the settlement go back to 1059, but in recent times the area has been severely depopulated by the decline in traditional sheep farming.
The first thing any potential redeveloper would have to tackle is access. Valle Piola's only link to the outside world is a dirt road, which peters out into a mule track as it winds through the hamlet.
Italy has an abundance of abandoned hill villages but, thanks to its location and unique architecture, locals say Valle Piola is a particular gem.
'It's a beautiful spot, a real jewel, and the buildings are all made of local stone,' Daniele Palumbi, the mayor of Torricella Sicura, a neighbouring town, told the Daily Telegraph.
'We're not giving an estimate of how much it would cost to make the houses habitable - it will be up to the buyer to come up with a plan.
'There's been a lot of interest from potential buyers in Italy, although nothing from abroad so far because it has not been widely publicised.'
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