Gambarogno: The latest Swiss village to sell houses for one franc

The southern Swiss town of Gambarogno, located on the shores of Lake Maggiore, has become the latest village to offer houses for one franc.

Stone houses in Foroglio, Switzerland similar to those on offer in Gambarogno.  Photo by Kuno Schweizer on Unsplash
Stone houses in Foroglio, Switzerland similar to those on offer in Gambarogno. Photo by Kuno Schweizer on Unsplash

The stone houses, known in Italian as rustici, are situated on the hillside with a view of the lake. 

Like most free things in life however, there is a catch. 

The houses, while cheap to buy, require a significant amount of investment in renovation, with the local council needing to approve any renovation plans before a deal can be done. 

Wanting to make it clear that the houses are not ready to be lived in tomorrow, the local council has advertised them under the motto “buy a dilapidated rustico for a symbolic franc”. 

The region, which is on the southern side of the lake opposite Locarno, has become more popular in recent years as people have holidayed domestically due to the Covid pandemic. 

Deals like this are common place in Italy and Spain, but they have become more prevalent in Switzerland in recent years. 

The village of Monti Scìaga, just a few minutes away, was the last to offer one franc homes, doing so to great international media attention in 2019. 

READ MORE: Swiss village plans to sell ‘houses for one franc’

The sun sets behind a jetty in Magadino in Gambarogno, Switzerland.   Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

The sun sets in Magadino in Gambarogno, Switzerland. Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

What’s the catch? 

The mayor of Gambarogno said the council has been surprised by the emphatic response with hundreds of contacts already, although he said it appeared that many people appeared not to understand how much effort was needed when taking over the apartments. 

“We did not expect so much interest,” Mayor Gianluigi Della Santa told SRF. 

“Perhaps it was not clear to many of what it would mean for them if they were to buy a one-franc rustico.”

The renovations are likely to cost tens of thousands of francs, with the local council needing to approve plans to make sure they are sufficient. 

While Della Santa said either individuals or foundations could purchase the stone houses, only those who showed a true interest in the region – as well as a commitment to learn Italian – would be approved. 

“I have nothing against German-speaking Swiss tourists who buy a rustico,” Della Santa told SRF.  

“But I don’t like to see people coming who have absolutely no desire to integrate, who don’t speak a single word of Italian. 

“Anyone who buys a one-franc rustico must be interested in the history of the place. This is not for people who just want a holiday home in the sun.”

Contact details for the Comune di Gambarogno can be found here. 


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Five European cities you can reach from Zurich in less than five hours by train

Switzerland is a beautiful country, but it also has a great location right in the centre of Europe, making it an ideal starting point for train travel. Here are five destinations you can reach in less than five hours from Zurich.

Five European cities you can reach from Zurich in less than five hours by train

As summer is still in full swing and there are many vacation days (or free weekends) to enjoy the sunny weather, it’s not the wrong time to do some travelling. Switzerland is a beautiful country, but it’s also centrally located in Europe. This means that many major European cities are reachable in just a few hours.

If you are located in Zurich, for example, then you are very near Germany, France, Italy, Liechtenstein and Austria. In less than five hours, visiting beautiful cities in these five countries is possible by taking a comfortable train ride.

So, select your final destination, get your ticket, and enjoy the ride.

READ ALSO: Switzerland’s ten most beautiful villages you have to visit

From Zurich to Strasbourg

It will take you just about 2 hours and 30 minutes (including time to stop and change trains in Basel) to get from Zurich’s mains station to the beautiful and historical city of Strasbourg, in northeast France.

Prices vary depending on several factors, but we found one-way tickets for just around CHF 23 on a Friday.

From Zurich to Munich

The capital of Bavaria can be reached from Zurich’s central station on a direct train in just 3 hours 30 minutes, allowing for short stays.

Munich may seem quite far away on a map, but the fast trains without stopovers actually make the journey quick and pleasant. We found one-way tickets for around CHF 70 on a Friday trip.

From Zurich to Vaduz

The capital of Liechtenstein is easy to reach in less than 2 hours from the Zurich central station. In fact, some journeys will take just about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

The lovely town bordering Switzerland has many tourist attractions, from its pedestrian historical centre to castles and parks. Train ticket prices always vary, but we found tickets for a one-way journey on a Friday costing CHF 20.

READ ALSO: Travel: What are the best night train routes to and from Switzerland?

From Zurich to Milan

Depending on the train you take, you can get from Zurich to Italy’s fashion capital in three to four hours with a direct train.

Before 2016, when the Gotthard Base Tunnel was opened to rail traffic, a trip from Zurich to Milan took an hour longer. It’s possible to find tickets for about CHF 70 for a one-way trip on a Friday.

From Zurich to Innsbruck

From Zurich, it is possible to hop on a direct train and, in just over 3 hours and 30 minutes, arrive in the beautiful town of Innsbruck, in the mountains of Tyrol.

Ticket costs vary, but we found tickets for a relatively short-notice one-way trip on a Friday (without discounts) for CHF 84.

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Fares depend on several factors, such as time of the day and day of the week when you travel.

While a rock-bottom cheap fare may be available one day in the morning, it won’t necessarily be offered the next day (or week) in the afternoon, or vice-versa.

Prices also depend on whether you are entitled to any discounts and which wagon you choose.

If you are interested in travelling farther afield, including with night trains, or if you are in other Swiss cities, these articles provide more information: