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Local residents forced to leave city centre in Florence

Max Civili

Press TV, Florence

For over a millennium, Florence - known as the cradle of renaissance - has been a global icon of beauty. Being the third largest tourist destination in Italy after Rome and Venice, Florence - a stunning, vibrant city with a storied and well-preserved history, attracts every year around 16 million tourists from across the world.

However, starting from the last decade of the 20th century - its city centre has been eyed by big investment groups interested in making profits through the acquisition of local real estate assets. As a result, living costs in the oldest part of Florence went dramatically up forcing a high number of residents to sell their apartments.

Throughout the years, smaller landlords in Florence have been aggressively targeted by large corporate investors. For those investors, housing has turned into a key factor for the management of global capital funds. As a result, the new housing market has led to

excessively high rents, widespread displacement as well as the dismantling of local communities and social bonds. A referendum called "Let's save Florence" has been recently launched in the Tuscan city in an attempt to protect the citizens from the real estate bubble and the speculation which have distorted the local housing market. Many hundreds of residents have supported the initiative so far.

Florence is not the only Italian city where large investment groups have been buying properties in historic areas. Rome, Venice and Milan have also been the target of corporate landlords. In 2021 in Berlin, Germany, more than a million Berliners supported a campaign to expropriate companies holding 3,000 or more apartments. Italian cities should maybe resort to a similar measure to try to keep local residents in the city centre.

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