Italian Village of Ollolai Entices New Residents With $1 Homes

iStock
iStock

Looking to get away from it all? For just €1 (about $1.20), you can score a Mediterranean country home in Sardinia's mountainous Barbagia region. Ollolai, the region's former capital, is selling hundreds of empty homes for next to nothing, CNN reports. Officials want to boost a shrinking local population and preserve the town's heritage, and they're hoping that the region's charm and low cost of living will attract new blood.

Many residents have left Ollolai for bigger cities, leaving the village filled with abandoned houses. So mayor Efisio Arbau decided to acquire the abodes, contacting former inhabitants and asking them to sign their properties over to town authorities. The government obtained a special decree to sell the homes on the cheap, and sales began in 2017.

Ollolai is a mountain paradise, with fresh air, quaint cobblestone alleys, lively folk traditions, and fine local crafts and food. But like most too-good-to-be-true offers, the town's real estate bargain comes with a catch: Its empty stone homes are in poor condition, and new homeowners are required to refurbish them within three years—at a cost of about $25,000, according to one estimate.

This conditional offer hasn't deterred potential purchasers, Arbau told CNN. Several homes have already been sold, and more than 100 offers have poured in from as far away as Russia and Australia.

"We boast prehistoric origins," Arbau told CNN. "My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion."

[h/t CNN]

A Finnish Tourism Company Is Hiring Professional Christmas Elves

iStock.com/kali9
iStock.com/kali9

Finland isn't quite the North Pole, but it will be home to a team of gainfully employed Christmas elves this holiday season. As Travel + Leisure reports, the Scandinavian country's Lapland Safaris is looking for elves to get guests into the holiday spirit.

Lapland Safaris is a tourism company that organizes activities like snowmobiling, Northern Lights-gazing, skiing, and ice-fishing. The elf employees will be responsible for leading guests to their buses and conveying important information, all while spreading holiday cheer. The job listing reads, "An Elf is at the same time an entertainer, a guide, and a mythical creature of Christmas."

Each Lapland Safari elf will receive training through Arctic Hospitality Academy prior to starting the job. There, they will learn "the required elfing and communication skills." Training will be conducted in English, but candidates' knowledge of French, Spanish, or German is a plus.

To apply, aspiring elves can fill out and submit this form through Lapland Safaris's website. The gig lasts from November 2018 to the beginning of next year, with employees having the option to work at any of the company's Finnish destinations (Santa's workshop is unfortunately not included on the list).

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

The Truth Behind Italy's Abandoned 'Ghost Mansion'

YouTube/Atlas Obscura
YouTube/Atlas Obscura

The forests east of Lake Como, Italy, are home to a foreboding ruin. Some call it the Casa Delle Streghe (House of Witches), or the Red House, after the patches of rust-colored paint that still coat parts of the exterior. Its most common nickname, however, is the Ghost Mansion.

Since its construction in the 1850s, the mansion—officially known as the Villa De Vecchi—has reportedly been the site of a string of tragedies, including the murder of the family of the Italian count who built it, as well as the count's suicide. It's also said that everyone's favorite occultist, Aleister Crowley, visited in the 1920s, leading to a succession of satanic rituals and orgies. By the 1960s, the mansion was abandoned, and since then both nature and vandals have helped the house fall into dangerous decay. The only permanent residents are said to be a small army of ghosts, who especially love to play the mansion's piano at night—even though it's long since been smashed to bits.

The intrepid explorers of Atlas Obscura recently visited the mansion and interviewed Giuseppe Negri, whose grandfather and great-grandfather were gardeners there. See what he thinks of the legends, and the reality behind the mansion, in the video below.

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