October 14, 2013
- A fortress, a palace and an island will be auctioned to tackle the deficit
- Economy minister Fabrizio Saccomanni hopes to make £425million
- The sale will be followed by a further £1billion of austerity measures
The Italian government is to sell scores of historic properties to help it tackle its huge budget deficit.
A haunted fortress, a cardinal’s palace and an island in the Venetian lagoon are among 50 sites for sale.
The move recalls 2012, when Greece was forced to sell off some its beautiful islands to foreign buyers, to chip away at its enormous debts.
The Italian government hope that the nation’s treasures will be bought by private businesses and converted into hotels, restaurants and museums, bringing much needed employment and international investment.
Minister for the economy Fabrizio Saccomanni aims to make £425million from the sell-off.
It was approved as part of an emergency decree aimed at keeping Italy’s 2013 budget deficit within 3 per cent to avoid corrective action by Brussels.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Enrico Letta is planning a further £1billion of austerity measures.
Italian property expert Rupert Fawcett said the scheme made ‘logical business sense’.
The idea was first mooted last year by Mario Monti, the technocrat who took over as Prime Minister in December 2011, when Silvio Berlusconi took public debt to unsustainable levels.
The ‘Kill Public Debt’ plan originally listed 350 properties but officials now deem that some assets, such as military airbases, are poorly suited for the commercial market.
The properties are to be marketed through a state-run fund who will advance the money to the Treasury, selling off the assets as buyers are found, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported.
The properties include Orsini Castle, which sits above its own feudal village near Viterbo, about 60miles from Rome.