Italy’s countryside is like no other: the rolling hills, the cypress-lined roads, the ancient villages, sprawling farmhouses and the yearly cycle as the green of spring turns to a sunburnt brown in the Mediterranean heat. But what is life really like in the campagna italiana? And what is it like to buy a rural property in Italy?
Types of rural property in Italy
Firstly, let’s look at the types of homes you could get yourself. Unlike in Spain, for instance, the vast majority of rural homes in Italy are of a traditional style. It’s relatively rare to see a modern-style villa out on its own in the countryside. Instead, you’ll largely find conservative builds, using red brick as the main material and with two or three storeys.
By far the most visually impressive buildings are the period stately homes or castles. We’ve all seen these in pictures of Italy – almost villages unto themselves. Many of these are given a new lease of life by expats, who convert them into tourist businesses or for use for events like weddings.
More unusual homes include cascina, normally found in the Po Valley. These are spacious courtyard homes: you could even convert part of it to living accommodation and part of it to ancillary tourist or family accommodation.
Restoring an old rural property in Italy
Restoring or renovating an old rural property in Italy is extremely popular among the British (even if the Italians think we’re completely bonkers). It can be immensely satisfying to see an old home come to new life, whether as a new permanent residence or as a business.
Your builders will be absolutely key to it – you could say they’ll make or break the project. Make sure to get quotes from a number of different ones and make sure to speak to people who have previously used them.
A key figure will also be your geometra. They’re the property specialist who does everything from carrying out structural surveys to much of the paperwork and project managements. In smaller projects, he or she can also take on a role not dissimilar to an architect’s.
Every municipality in Italy will have relatively strict building laws, do make sure any work doesn’t go against them. For example, nationally, if you do any work involving water – from diverting a watercourse to putting in a pool – you’ll need to get a geologists’ report before commencing the work.
Starting your new life in rural Italy
The pleasures of living in the Italian countryside are too many to number, from the peace and quiet, to the unspoilt villages, beautiful countryside and laidback lifestyle. However, you will need to work to get a number of services connected. For instance, you may find you need to rent a post box in a nearby town if you live very isolated. Check utilities like water – it might be from an artesian well or even an underground tank or cisterna.
For comprehensive information on the whole buying process in Italy, read your free Italy Buying Guide
Wherever you wish to live in Italy, knowing how to negotiate for your property should get you a little more house for your money! Download our guide: How to Negotiate Abroad.
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