• A fortress, a palace and an island will  be auctioned to tackle the deficit
  • Economy minister Fabrizio Saccomanni  hopes to make £425million
  • The sale will be followed by a further  £1billion of austerity measures

By  Daily Mail Reporter and Hannah Roberts

PUBLISHED: 19:23 EST, 11  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 05:03 EST, 12 October 2013

The Italian government is to sell scores of  historic properties to help it tackle its huge budget deficit.

A haunted fortress, a cardinal’s palace and  an island in the Venetian lagoon are among 50 sites for sale.

The move recalls 2012, when Greece was forced  to sell off some its beautiful islands to foreign buyers, to chip away at its  enormous debts.

The Italian government hope that the nation’s  treasures will be bought by private businesses and converted into hotels,  restaurants and museums, bringing much needed employment and international  investment.

Minister for the economy Fabrizio Saccomanni  aims to make £425million from the sell-off.

Historic: Orsini Odescalchi castle in the lakeside town of Bracciano, 27 miles from Rome, is up for sale 

Historic: Orsini Odescalchi castle in the lakeside town  of Bracciano, 27 miles from Rome, is up for sale

 

It was approved as part of an emergency  decree aimed at keeping Italy’s 2013 budget deficit within 3 per cent to avoid  corrective action by Brussels.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Enrico Letta is  planning a further £1billion of austerity measures.

Italian property expert Rupert Fawcett said  the scheme made ‘logical business sense’.

The idea was first mooted last year by Mario  Monti, the technocrat who took over as Prime Minister in December 2011, when  Silvio Berlusconi took public debt to unsustainable levels.

The ‘Kill Public Debt’ plan originally listed  350 properties but officials now deem that some assets, such as military  airbases, are poorly suited for the commercial market.

The properties are to be marketed through a  state-run fund who will advance the money to the Treasury, selling off the  assets as buyers are found, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera  reported.

 

The properties include Orsini Castle, which  sits above its own feudal village near Viterbo, about 60miles from Rome.

The medieval fort was built for Pope Nicholas  III in the 1270s and has a Euro 15 million price tag. Said to be haunted, it was  used as a prison from the mid-19th century to 1989 and has since been an art  gallery.

In Venice the properties on offer include the  Island of San Giacomo in Palude, north-east of Murano. The island was  inhabited by monks and friars from the 11th century before it became a military  base in the 1800s.

Since it was abandoned in 1961, it has fallen  into ruin but could appeal to international investors as a luxury  resort.

Other national treasures to go under the  hammer include the 18th century palace, Villa Mirabello.

The frescoed villa, set in parkland near  Monza, close to Milan, was built in the 18th century by Cardinal Durini, the  Inquisitor of Malta.

Property expert Rupert Fawcett head of Knight  Frank Italy said the scheme made ‘logical business sense’.

Tackling deficit: Prime Minister Enrico Letta will follow the sale with £1billion of austerity measures next year 

Tackling deficit: Prime Minister Enrico Letta will  follow the sale with £1billion of austerity measures next year

 

He said: ‘The reality is that any government  in Europe is looking to raise funds where they can. The cost of running these  properties can be huge and the sheer upkeep of them can be  unmanageable.

‘If properties can be bought by private  investors, restored to their former glory it’s good for everyone. It benefits  local communities and puts some money in the state coffers.’

Head of the Italian employers federation  Confindustria, Giorgio Squinzi, said to cut the deficit Italy’s needed ‘drastic  action’.

‘Continuing with the status quo our country  will remain, at zero or low growth.’

It is not the first time Italy has sold off  assets. Last year a succession of lighthouses on the island of Sardinia were  sold off to private businesses and converted into hotels, galleries, and  museums.

The island’s autonomous government could no  longer afford the cost of maintaining and restoring them.

Greece’s sale last year of 70,000 lots  included beaches, ski resorts and islands.

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