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The American who bought a home in Italy and found ‘big surprises’ inside

Shapiro played his saxophone on his first trip to Latronico.

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Buyers from all over the world are snapping up charming old houses in isolated villages in Italy. They’re all motivated by different goals, but they have one thing in common: They all seek a retreat, somewhere they can escape to and live the rural idyll.

Chicago-based saxophonist Joshua Shapiro, 48, embarked on the quest for la dolce vita as the first step toward a change of life. His long-term goal is to move away from the United States, which he believes is taking a broad political shift that troubles him.

In 2022, he bought a small, abandoned apartment in the village of Latronico, deep in the southern region of Basilicata, for 22,000 euros (roughly $23,600), after reading CNN Travel’s article about the clever housing program launched to attract migrants and stop depopulation.

For now, he drops in and out as he finalizes his home’s makeover. In the future, he can see himself making the big leap to relocate permanently.

“I’m ready for the next chapter in my life. Being a freelance saxophonist, mainly playing jazz and commercial, is not without challenges, and as taste and demand for what I do is notably decreasing [in the US], it might be in much higher demand in Europe,” Shapiro tells CNN Travel.

For him, buying a dilapidated property in an unusual Italian spot is political, too.

“I don’t like the political situation in the US – the shift to the right. A huge swath of the electorate believes in another version of democracy, and how all this could pan out is a huge problem,” he says.

Shapiro visited Latronico on a trip to Italy after the pandemic – the third time he’d traveled to the country, and the first time in 20 years. He took along his saxophone, which he played from a house that he rented while his newly purchased home was being worked on. Villagers have fond memories of hearing jazz melodies in the winding alleys at night.

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