Their job is to save lives. But can these Argentine doctors breathe new life into an entire Italian village?


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(CNN) — When dozens of cities across Italy started selling crumbling buildings for the price of an espresso, people from all over the world were urged to grab some of the action — and for many different reasons.

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

For some, it’s part of a career switch: a radical professional upgrade that comes with a more relaxed lifestyle.

The sale of cheap one-euro ($1) buildings in the Sicilian town of Mussomeli is luring Argentine doctors with Italian roots, who plan to settle and change their lives.

“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 Argentine doctors who speak fluent 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 does more than address a health emergency.

“These new doctors are also interested in contributing to the revitalization projects underway to revitalize our depopulating village, including buying and remodeling abandoned homes in the historic center, which has been our greatest success.”

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

‘Slow down and slow down’

A number of Italian-Argentine doctors recently visited Mussomeli to meet with authorities, schoolchildren and future colleagues — and get a sense of the city’s atmosphere.

For Rosario-based ER surgeon Leonardo Roldan, moving to Sicily serves a dual purpose.

“I’m still quite young, 49, so it’s more than just a professional shift in my career: it’s the choice to live a different life, the opposite of the one I live in Argentina, and to take care of my family.” to bring along. “

Roldan, who previously lived in northern Italy, says he never quite realized how beautiful Sicily was until he discovered Mussomeli, which also helped him overcome certain prejudices about the deep south that he picked up when living in the north.

“Mussomeli is a total break from my daily reality. It’s a different world: quiet, peaceful, where the locals lead a simple lifestyle. I’ve come to realize that we all, at some point in our lives, need to slow down take it easy, take more time to enjoy quality things.”

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

Roldan is planning to move from Argentina with his entire family, including the dog, and has already looked at a few properties.

“The town hall has done a great job with the low-cost housing scheme, and at some point, once I’m settled in, I could buy one and remodel it, as a life project without any rush,” he says.

Initially, he plans to move to a rural house with a garden on the outskirts of Mussomeli, but if his contract is renewed for a year, he would like to embark on a one-euro adventure or a cheap house renovation.

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

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

Comeback chance

Diego Colabianchi is looking forward to his Sicilian adventure.

Diego Colabichic

Argentina has been 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, is also likely to join the doctors in Mussomeli.

“I studied in Italy, we love and miss life in Italy. The recruitment is an opportunity to go back, and I am overjoyed at the prospect of a change in my life. I have never been to Mussomeli, but I really see I live there – the small-scale village world, the tranquility, it just arouses endless curiosity in me.”

Colabianchi says he longs for a new experience in a peaceful environment surrounded by nature and where being treated to great, authentic Sicilian cuisine is just another plus.

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

“I like the unusual location, high in the mountains, totally opposite of Rosario’s plain where I live now. Moreover, Mussomeli is close to the beaches; there are hills, olive groves, vineyards and farmers make great wool.”

The idea of ​​refurbishing and renovating a dilapidated property to breathe new life into the old quarter beckons him. But Colabianchi wants to take it one step at a time.

“The first year in Mussomeli will be spent adjusting to my new environment, but my dream is to stay there and settle down for good, so at some point buying a one euro house, or an abandoned cheap house in better condition, an option indeed”.

‘Full of life’

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

“I want to do other things and see other things. Above all I want a professional shock and when I visited Mussomeli I felt this energy flowing through the village. It is full of life.”

Trape says working in Sicily will also allow him to be closer to his children in Europe and fully reconnect with his Sicilian heritage.

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

Unlike his Rosario colleagues, Trape has some concerns that Mussomeli might be just a little too sleepy for him compared to his current life in Buenos Aires, which he says satisfies him completely.

“It’s a small village with a peaceful, understated atmosphere. Maybe it’s a little too quiet [compared to] which I initially expected, which struck me when I first visited, but I am happy and looking forward to this experience.”

And possibly, once he starts working in the hospital regularly and has a long-term vision for his Sicilian stay, Trape says he could buy and renovate an abandoned house.

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