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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10 francs: Everything you need to know about Flixtrain’s Basel to Berlin line

In early May, German transport provider Flixtrain announced it would begin running services from Basel to Berlin (and back) from June. Here’s what you need to know.

10 francs: Everything you need to know about Flixtrain's Basel to Berlin line

German transport provider Flixtrain has announced it will launch in Switzerland from June 23rd. The low-cost provider is offering 10 franc (10 euro) tickets from Basel to Berlin, among other cheap fares.

The low-cost company, which has been establishing itself Deutsche Bahn’s major competitor Germany over the past few years, runs long distance bus and train services. 

When will the services run?

The lines to and from Basel run from Thursday to Monday, with one connection per day in either direction. 

It will take 8 hours and 45 minutes from Basel Badischer Bahnhof to Berlin Hauptbahnhof. 

A trip with the German ICE will instead take just over 7 hours. 

The new line is part of an expansion of services which is set to include around 70 destinations in Germany. 

OK but will it really cost CHF10?

The price of the ticket grabbed headlines, with Flixtrain saying in its press conference that the almost-nine-hour trip would only cost CHF10 (10 euro). 

Flixtrain spokesperson Sebastian Meyer told Swiss news outlet Watson that tickets would start at CHF10, but more expensive tickets would be available when the CHF10 offerings were sold out. 

“If the cheapest ticket contingent is sold out, the next higher one takes effect. In this way, we can always offer our passengers cheap tickets. Affordable prices are still possible due to the corresponding utilisation of the individual trips.”

In order to get the cheapest possible fare, travellers are advised to book early. 

REVEALED: How to find cheap train tickets in Switzerland

Tickets between Basel and Berlin can cost as high as CHF150 or 160 euros from Switzerland’s SBB or Germany’s Deutsche Bahn respectively, although booking in advance can bring the price down to as low as CHF30. 

Where will the train to (and from) Berlin stop?

In either direction, the train will stop at: Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden, Offenburg, Freiburg, Wiesloch, Bad Hersfeld and Weil am Rhein. 

What else is different about Flixtrain?

Other than being bright lime green, Flixtrains allow you to take your bicycle with you, which is not allowed on most ICE long-distance trains in Germany. 

Are there any other destinations within Switzerland? 

As yet, Basel will be the only Swiss destination. The other two new routes are Stuttgart to Hamburg and Berlin to Weisbaden. 

In addition to the 10 franc (10 euro) ticket from Basel to Berlin, other journeys within Germany will start at 5 francs (5 euros). 

More information is available from Flixtrain at the following link. 

The expanded routes can be seen in the following image. 

A look at Flixtrain’s route network in 2022. Map: Flixtrain