Reclaim the abandoned village of a man who migrated from southern Italy to Scotland on foot 180 years ago. This is the dream of a British lawyer of Italian origin who has bought the 15 houses that made up his great-grandfather’s village in order to rebuild them so that his family can live there. It is one of the stories in which the team of our own town is working for its second season. This is an original program from the British channel Channel 4 where several English families leave the comfort of their homes to rescue towns and villages throughout Europe, including three in Spain. Cosmo broadcasts the format from Monday to Thursday at 9:00 p.m., also available on demand in the main payment operators.
The program is the very definition of capitalism: people who buy properties, which were previously homes with a small town atmosphere, to make a profit, renting those houses to foreigners who want a break from their stressful lives in the city. But its producer Piero Sfreddo opines in an interview by video call: “If the decision is between redoing them or letting them die, I prefer the former.” The creator assures that there is always a risk that these towns will lose their essence and their history, but “if they disappear, centuries of memory of the people who lived in them will have been lost.”
The key for Sfreddo is to be faithful to what that place once was, but in a sustainable way. “Agriculture, the type of economy that sustained these villages, is dead, you have to think outside the box to make them survive,” he explains. In this way, the new owners give them “a new reason for being”.
each episode of our own town tells the story of two buyers and the towns they have acquired. Most flee the high prices of the UK in search of stunning scenery and a quieter lifestyle. In the case of Julie and Steve Ward, life took a turn for them and took them from Norwich to Andalusia. They both closed their business and sold their house to travel around Europe with a caravan. Just when they were going to settle indefinitely in a campsite in France, they fell in love with some caves in Granada. They contacted the owners via Facebook and after much negotiation they signed the deeds. This is how they went from a “semi-retirement” to starting again with Cuevas de la Paz.
The history of its caves is not different from that of many others that remain abandoned in the rest of the Peninsula. The shepherds used these holes to shelter their cattle and over time they even became their homes. Now this couple receives tourists, mostly Spanish, who are looking for a place to disconnect, although with a Wi-Fi connection, which fails during the interview. “Spain is beautiful, the weather is fabulous, the people are really lovely”, Julie considers. In your area there are still caves for sale and their price ranges between 12,000 and 330,000 euros.
The program is accompanied by an epic tone, even in the music that guides it, which creates moments of tension in which its participants, rather than removing dry branches from a barn or cobwebs from a lamp, seem to be going to war. . Although it does not mean that the task of reviving a town is simple. The poor state of buildings ranges from problems with roofs and facades to the demolition of entire houses due to damage to their structure. The Wards found completely abandoned caves, they had leaky ceilings, damp walls, leaks in the pool, and no electrical wiring. “Inside the caves they had used a product called paraffin, which is like a wax that prevents moisture, the problem is that when it gets wet it breaks, so we had to vacuum the walls to remove all the scales,” Steve details.
Two other Britons have joined the adventure of the program in Spain who want to recover the life of two towns in Asturias and Galicia. Marcial Doporto, who settled in a village in Lugo, has the help of Benita and Senín, the last inhabitants of the town, to reconstruct the story of O’Penso. Doporto meets Mark Adkinson, another Briton who, after living in Galicia for 40 years, decided to set up a real estate agency specializing in pazos and abandoned villages with his wife. O’Penso sold for €225,000, less than Doporto would pay for a one-bedroom flat in London, he says. Neil Christie has spent almost two decades fixing up a town in the Taramundi council in Arruñada. In 2005, this Englishman bought the town for 45,000 euros and has rehabilitated it with his own hands. Among his properties are: eight stone houses, a small forest, a stream and just over three hectares of land.
The new owners become the envy of viewers who once fantasized about having a town at their beck and call. And it shows that waking up surrounded by an amazing landscape and a life worthy of a story, in many cases, can be achieved for less than the cost of buying a flat or a car.
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