Move to Molise and start a business, and you could be rewarded with 700 euros a month over the first three years. This tiny Italian region hopes this exciting new initiative will help regenerate small villages that are becoming depopulated, and bring in new life to its rural communities. So what are you waiting for?

Molise is the second smallest region of Italy after Valle d’Aosta, and is often overlooked by house buyers. This is a region of friendly little communities, the majority of which have less than 2,000 residence. It is these villages that are inviting people to come and start businesses to revitalise their communities. Villagers are concerned that their old traditions and historical places could disappear. The Molise Region website lists 107 villages that want to welcome newcomers. So, if you long to escape urban life and want to work in a countryside location, this could be the region for you. Young people and couples with children are particularly encouraged to apply to the scheme, as these villages have an aging population that have seen many of its young people move to the big cities. The low population figures are also due to the decreasing birth rate across Italy, which has fallen by 21% over 10 years.

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What’s the deal?

Named the “reddito di residenza attiva” or ‘active residency allowance’, the Molise Region is offering suitable candidates €700 a month for up to three years for a maximum amount of €24,000. Applications are welcome from European citizens, Italian citizens living in other regions, people with dual citizenship, or those who have a residence permit that allows them to stay in Italy for at least 5 years. You’ll be committed to running a business for at least 5 years in one of the villages that has under 2,000 inhabitants. This can be a new start up business or you can move your existing business there. It will need to be registered in Molise, and this will be where you’ll pay your tax. If your application is accepted you will be expected to move your residence to Molise within 90 days.

The beautiful town of Isernia, Giambattista Lazazzera / Shutterstock.com

The beautiful town of Isernia, Giambattista Lazazzera / Shutterstock.com

Official information and application form

All the application documents can be found on the Molise Region website, which is printed only in Italian. The official bulletin is dated 17 September 2019 and is titled “Reddito di residenza attiva, pubblicato l’Avviso” (Active residence income, notice published) The application form (domando di partecipazione) must be sent by email,  accompanied by a copy of a valid identity document, your CV and a feasibility study of the business with a financial plan, by the 30th November 2019. After which date, all requests will be evaluated by a special Commission to check the admissibility and eligibility of the application.

Young people and couples with children are particularly encouraged to apply to the scheme.

Businesses in Molise

Molise mainly has small businesses with a few larger enterprises located on the coast. Unemployment is high. The main areas of specialisation include automotive, mechanics, textiles, clothing, and agri-food. Industries are localised in the industrial clusters of Termoli, Campobasso-Bojano, Campobasso-Ripalimosani and Venafro-Pozzilli. Crafts are important, but tourism is not yet well developed. The greatest share of employment is absorbed by commerce and other services. The region is relatively strong in exports of high-tech technology-intensive manufacturing. Key areas the region want to develop to sustain regional development are Agrifood, Cultural, Touristic and creative factories, Science of life and ICT. The farms produce wine, cereals, olive oil, vegetables, fruits and dairy products. Traditional products are Grass Pea (cicerchia) and Farro. But, newcomers are welcome to start any kind of business, such as a restaurant, bar, B&B, small farm, hairdresser’s, or shop selling local produce. Anything that will bring new life to the village.

Why live in Molise?

The Molise region has fascinating traditions along with stunning landscapes and wonderfully rustic gastronomy. It borders Abruzzo to the north, Lazio to the west, Campania to the south west, Puglia to the south east and has 35 kilometres of beautiful coastline on the Adriatic Sea. As well as the picturesque coastal town of Termoli there are plenty of sandy beaches to unroll a towel on and enjoy space and relaxation. Inland you’ll find beautiful nature parks, hills, lakes, and mountains, that are great for hikers and mountain bikes. There are numerous trails including the ancient shepherds paths, called “tratturi”. Surrounded by an unspoilt landscape the lakes of Castel San Vincenzo, Occhito, Guardialfiera are truly stunning. If you fancy a bit of skiing there are also a handful of ski resorts including Campitello Matese near San Massimo and Capracotta.

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Molise’s historical highlights include the castles of Ciamarra and Capua and some interesting archaeological sites. Probably the most important Roman municipality in the Sannio area of ​​Molise is Saepinium, which still has the remains of roman baths, a theatre, a forum, a basilica, a macellum, shop houses and a museum. The archaeological site at Pietrabbondante has a theatre that hosts shows in the summer. The truffle is one of the gastronomic excellences of Molise with a high percentage of Italy’s prized white truffles coming from here. Popular local dishes include a delicious lamb ragu and sheep’s liver sausages. This is a region where time has stood still and you can enjoy a simple, peaceful lifestyle.

This is a region where time has stood still and you can enjoy a simple, peaceful lifestyle.

Getting to Molise

The region is split into two provinces, named after their respective capitals Isernia and Campobasso. But Campobasso is the regions capital. Molise doesn’t have its own international airport, but it’s neighbouring regions do, so depending on what side of Molise you want to live you can choose from airports at Pescara, Napoli, Rome or Bari. Drive times to the regional capital of Campobasso, which is fairly central, are: Pescara to Campobasso – 2 hours; Napoli to Campobasso – 2hours 12 mins; Rome airport to Campobasso – 3 hours; Bari to Campobasso 2 hours 45 minutes. You can catch direct trains to Campobasso from Rome for as little as €15.20 and Naples (€11.25).

Property in Molise

Property prices are very affordable in Molise, with many available under €100,000. In fact, €50,000 could buy you a renovated 2 bed apartment or town house. Even a detached house with a lake view can be found for €260,000. Here are some

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