"We bought a 'one euro' house and spent €400k turning it into dream holiday home"

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A couple who bought a 'one euro' home in Italy have spent €400k transforming it into their dream home.

Massoud Ahmadi, 71, and his wife, Shelley, 61, bought an abandoned 18th century townhouse which was advertised for sale for one euro.

The property went to auction and the couple ended up paying just $10,500 (£8,400) for the two-bedroom property in January 2019.

The internal walls were crumbling and the rooms were packed full of old junk - including a retro pram.

Since purchasing the home, the couple have spent €400k on the project.

The townhouse is now double the size of the property when they bought it and features multiple terraces and views of the mountains.

Massoud, a semi-retired economist, from Montgomery County, Maryland, US, said: “Adding to the property means we had 250 square metres of space, and now we have 500, with multiple terraces and views of the mountains.

“I now have more bedrooms and bathrooms and terraces.

“I also have a garage which I desperately needed.

“The entire project so far has a combined cost of around €400,000 which includes lighting and furniture."

When Massoud and his wife bought the property back in January 2019 it was crumbing and described as "uninhabitable" three storey-property.

He “couldn’t fathom” renovating the property within a three year deadline imposed by the council - but pulled it off thanks to the help of local architects and artisans.

Massoud said: “The house was uninhabitable and I couldn’t really fathom handling the project because it was beyond my pay grade.

“I look at before and after photos and it’s incredible.

“My architect did a fantastic job and when I walked in for the first time I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“It takes a lot of patience but the end result is something I’ll enjoy for years. It’s a Renaissance house.

“We re-designed practically everything but we decided to retain and maintain the historic elements."

The recent extension on the home cost Masoud €40,000 and took almost a year to complete with renovations finishing in May 2024

Massoud and his wife are using the property as a "second home" and have been splitting their time between Sambuca di Sicilia and their home in Montgomery County, US.

Massoud said: “It is a legacy project which will stay in the family.

“It is a perfect hub for my family to rest and explore the rest of Europe.

“My children - one of them has kids and the other is single - so it is perfect for them to come here.”

Massoud is not looking to stop and enjoy the sunshine anytime soon.

He has plans for another expansion and he is interested in buying more property in the area.

Massoud said: “I am now looking to have my own orchard or vineyard.

“My friends are currently helping me with this, and I hope to have this acquired soon.

“We are hoping to acquire a minimum of five hectares (around 12.4 acres) to grow grapes, olives and fruits.”

Massoud says that the “natural beauty of the island” is one of the things he loves about Sicily.