Meet Argentinian doctors drawn to the rural idyll of Sicily

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(CNN) — When dozens of towns across Italy started selling ruined buildings for the price of an espresso, people around the world were invited to take a slice of the action – and for many different reasons.

It’s not always about chasing the idyllic dream of living La Dolce Vita in a sleepy, rural village where time stands still.

For some, it’s part of a career change: a drastic professional upgrade that comes with a more laid-back lifestyle.

The sale of real estate at one euro ($1) and cheap in the Sicilian town of mussomeli attracts Argentine doctors with Italian roots, who plan to settle down and turn their lives around.

“Due to a shortage of doctors in the village hospital, a partnership has been signed between the University of Rosario in Argentina and our town hall to fill the vacancies, and soon we will have new Argentinian doctors who are fluent in Spanish. ‘Italian,’ said Mussomeli mayor Giuseppe. Catania tells CNN.

The partnership started as a promotional tool to attract foreign investment for Mussomeli’s urban regeneration, Catania says, and now it’s doing more than just responding to a health emergency.

“These new doctors are also interested in contributing to ongoing revitalization projects to breathe new life into our depopulated village, including buying and revamping abandoned houses in the historic center, which has been our greatest success.”

In recent years, Mussomeli has sold more than 300 cheap properties, starting at €5,000, and 150 one-euro houses, attracting foreign professionals and smart workers. Many new buyers come from Argentina, where the Mussomeli families migrated in the 1900s.

“Slow Down and Slow Down”

A number of Italian-Argentine doctors recently traveled to Mussomeli to meet authorities, schoolchildren and future colleagues – and get a feel for the vibe of the town.

For Leonardo Roldan, an emergency surgeon based in Rosario, moving to Sicily has a dual purpose.

“I’m still quite young, 49 years old, so it’s more than a simple professional retraining in my career: it’s the choice to lead a different life, at the antipodes of the one I live in Argentina, and to bring my family with me.”

Roldan, who previously lived in northern Italy, says he never realized how beautiful Sicily was until he discovered Mussomeli, which also helped him overcome some misconceptions preconceptions about the Deep South that he had acquired while living in the North.

“Mussomeli is a total break from my everyday reality. It’s another world: quiet, peaceful, where people live a simple life. I realized that we all should, at some point in our lives, slow down and take it slow, take more time to savor quality things.”

For him, Mussomeli is the chance to live a slower life and use his free time to enjoy what he loves most: jogging on the pristine village hills dotted with sheep and exploring the wonders of Sicily. . I compare it to giving up fast food for slow food

Roldan plans to leave Argentina with his whole family, including the dog, and has already visited a few properties.

“City Hall has done an amazing job with the cheap home program, and at some point, once I get settled, I might buy and remodel one, like a life project without any rush,” says- he.

Initially, he plans to move into a rural house with a garden on the outskirts of Mussomeli, but if his one-year contract is extended, he would be happy to embark on a one-euro or good house renovation adventure. market.

“I don’t want it to be an investment, nor do I want it to be a boutique or a commercial activity. It will be a place that I can call home for the future.”

Moving to Mussomeli will also allow Roldan to reconnect with his Italian roots, as four of his great-grandparents emigrated to Argentina from Italy.

Return opportunity

Diego Colabianchi is looking forward to his Sicilian adventure.

Diego Colabianchi is looking forward to his Sicilian adventure.

Diego Colabianchi

Argentina is going through an economic crisis, which is also a factor in the decision to move, says Italian-Argentine pediatrician Diego Colabianchi, from Rosario. His wife, a gynecologist, will probably join the ranks of doctors in Mussomeli as well.

“I studied in Italy, we love and miss living in Italy. Recruitment is an opportunity to come back, and I am thrilled at the idea of ​​a life change. I have never been to Mussomeli before but I really see myself living there – the small-scale village world, the tranquility, it sparks endless curiosity in me.”

Colabianchi says he yearns for a new experience in a peaceful setting surrounded by nature and where feasting on excellent, authentic Sicilian cuisine is just another perk.

“At this stage of my life, I couldn’t see myself living even in Rome, too chaotic. But Mussomeli is perfect, not too small, somewhere between a village and a city.

“I love its offbeat location, high in the mountains, totally opposite to the plain of Rosario where I now live. Also, Mussomeli is close to the beaches; there are hills, olive groves, vineyards and the farmers make good wool.”

The idea of ​​recovering a dilapidated property and renovating it to help revitalize the old quarter appeals to him. But Colabianchi wants to take it one step at a time.

“The first year in Mussomeli will be spent adapting to my new environment, but my dream is to stay there and settle permanently, so at some point buy a one-euro house, or a cheap abandoned house in better condition, that’s actually an option.”

‘Lively’

For Buenos Aires-based gastroenterologist Edgardo Trape, working as a doctor in Mussomeli is a double challenge.

“I want to start doing different things, seeing different things. Above all, I would like a professional shock and when I visited Mussomeli, I felt this energy running through the village. It’s full of life.”

Trape says working in Sicily will also allow her to connect with her children in Europe and fully reconnect with her Sicilian heritage.

“Three of my grandparents are from the town of Caltanissetta, and Mussomeli is part of the same province, so it can’t just be a coincidence.”

Unlike his colleagues in Rosario, Trape fears that Mussomeli is a little too sleepy for him compared to his current life in Buenos Aires, which he says fully satisfies him.

“It’s a small village with a peaceful and cozy atmosphere. It’s perhaps a little too quiet [compared to] what I initially expected, which struck me on my first visit, but I’m happy and looking forward to this experience.”

And potentially, once he starts working regularly at the hospital and has a longer-term view of his time in Sicily, Trape says he could buy and renovate an abandoned house.