(CNN) — The mayor of the Italian town of Candela has come up with a practical solution to boost its dwindling population: paying people to become residents.
Nicola Gatta wants the small medieval town in Puglia to shine like it did in the 1990s, when more than 8,000 people lived there. Today, there are just 2,700 residents.
So, to recover the town’s lost grandeur, Mayor Gatta is offering up to 2,000 euros ($2,350) to encourage people to relocate.
“I work each day with passion and commitment to bring Candela back to its ancient splendor,” says Gatta. “Up until the 1960s, travelers called it ‘Nap’licchie’ (Little Naples), for it streets full of wayfarers, tourists, merchants and screaming vendors.”
These days, the Neapolitan buzz has been replaced by the silence of the surrounding green hills and pristine forests.
The churches that stand at each street corner fill up only to celebrate the very few births that occur here, or the many funerals for elderly residents.
This maze of winding picturesque alleys, Baroque buildings and arched passageways is at risk of turning into a ghost town. Most young people have fled in search of a brighter future elsewhere, leaving behind the elders.
However, Gatta is on a desperate crusade to save Candela from dying out.
There are dozens of dazzling white houses with panoramic terraces and ornate balconies standing empty, waiting to welcome new residents.
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