Italy has drawn visitors and buyers from overseas for centuries, attracted by its rich culture, the beauty of its countryside and cities and the lifestyle of the ‘dolce vita’. But where are the most popular areas – and which would suit you? Italy’s history as a shifting patchwork of independent states has given it a huge amount of variety, and what you find in the northeast, for instance, will be very different to down in Sicily in the southwest. Here are the top five regions to buy in Italy and why they would make a perfect home.
Tuscany hardly needs introduction; in many ways, it’s one of the cradles of Italian culture, and a common saying says that the Italian language is ‘Tuscan in a Roman mouth’. For many overseas buyers, the most sought-after properties here are the typical sprawling farmhouses, sitting in the foothills and approached through a long road lined with cypress trees. Of course, the city of Florence itself is a great draw for anyone looking for city life in one of the most beautiful and historic locations in Europe. It’s difficult to beat waking up in a rooftop apartment with a view of the Duomo every morning!
For more affordable properties prices than Florence, many buyers head to Lucca. This is another fantastically preserved town, with intact Renaissance walls and a beautiful square (or really, circle) built over the former amphitheatre. It’s the hometown of Puccini, and opera lovers can enjoy the August festival of his works, staged in Torre del Lago.
Of course, we’d be remiss to mention Tuscany without mentioning the famous wine region of the Chianti – popular villages include Monteriggioni, Greve and the city of Sienna.
Like Tuscany, Umbria is a land of rolling, pine-forested hills, ancient towns and gorgeous weather. However, it is a little more ‘undiscovered’ than its more famous neighbour, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a quieter environment (and more affordable property). Cities like Perugia and Assisi are perfect for anyone who wants a bit of hustle and bustle, but still to have easy access to the countryside.
The big draw, however, is the countryside. Bevagna, a charming vilage in the north, is popular among overseas buyers for its well preserved architecture and quiet pace of life. Further south, Città della Pieve, famous for its saffron and as the birthplace of Pietro Vannucci, has a lively centre with a beautiful theatre. Two annual festivals, the Infiorata and the Palio dei Terzieri, see the town come alive with colourful decorations, parades, activities and, of course, delicious food!
Le Marche, extending eastwards from Tuscany to the Adriatic, is scarcely populated and blessed with fantastic natural beauty, whether it’s the Apennine mountains in the west, or the flat coastal plains to the east. Around 7% of the population comes from outside Italy, and it’s easy to see why it is so popular among overseas buyers. You can find large, historic properties for much lower prices here than in the west, and yet still enjoy all the conveniences of central Italy, with Rome around three-and-a-half hours’ drove from Ancona.
Speaking of Ancona, this is the perfect place for anyone looking for a seaside holiday home. The Portonovo beach has Blue Flag status, and there are a number of excellent trattorie on the waterfront. Up in the hills, the university town of Urbino is steeped in history, and is perfect for a spot of culture, with fantastic galleries and museums.
Called Puglia in Italian, Apulia is the most popular region of southern Italy, occupying the heel of the Italian ‘boot’. The white-washed town of Ostuni is one of the most popular places in the whole of Italy for British property buyers, many charmed by its unspoilt feel and year-round sunshine. In the Itria Valley, especially in Alberobello, you’ll find the famous trulli: white roundhouses with conical roofs quite unlike anything you’ll see in the rest of Italy. The Italians do have a tendency to think the British are mad with our love for these quirky homes, as many require a good amount of restoration, but there’s no denying their characterful appeal!
Another popular small town is Gallipolli, whose charming, walled old town is located on a limestone island, connected to the modern city by a bridge. Life here is exactly what you’d want from a small Italian town, with a packed calendar of festivities, from Santa Cristina to Sant’Agata, Easter, Christmas and more. For boating enthusiasts, there’s an excellent, centrally located marina.
Back up north and we’re in Lombardy, home to the style capital of Europe – Milan. This is a wealthy region, producing 20% of Italy’s GDP, and the perfect place to go for job-seekers. Milan has a booming tech and start-up scene, and is being touted as the ‘new Barcelona’ for its buoyant property market. Of course, it’s also the home of many luxury fashion houses, and, while not as ancient as many other Italian cities, is a culture-seekers heaven thanks to the patronage of wealthy rulers.
The UNESCO World Heritage city of Mantua is full of historic sights, and living here can almost feel like stepping back in time. However, it’s not just a museum; Legambiente ranked Mantua in 2017 as Italy’s most liveable city for its environment and quality of life.
If you are ready to buy in Italy, download your free Italy Buying Guide today to find out how the purchase process works.
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