Anyone who publishes a list, for example a Top 10 list, should answer a couple of good questions: why that number and why those items were chosen. In this case, answering the first question is easy. Obviously the choice of a number is always arbitrary and ten is a very small number for a task like this, but it is so well referenced from so remote time, that I can go straight to use it.
On the contrary, the second question deserves some more explanation. All the places below have been chosen thinking about a foreigner who wants to find a home for leisure in Italy. I cared to avoid cities. I also avoided places so famous to be almost impossible, such as Cortina d’Ampezzo, Portofino, Chianti region, Amalfi, Capri and so on. Everyone already knows these places, so adding them to the list would be of no help to the reader.
I have selected the ten places below having in mind these two simple objectives: they had to be affordable (no stellar prices) and, on the whole, representative of the most typical aspects of Italian territory. I hope to have accomplished this task at least in part. My true opinion is that every selection of this kind should be taken with a bit of skepticism. Far from being definitive, it is just intended to arouse interest and stimulate further exploration.
Finally, here is the list of the sites. The indications of price you find in each description are dated 1st half 2010.
Val Aurina - Alto Adige (Part 1)
Cannobio – Lake Maggiore, Piedmont (Part 1)
Riviera del Brenta – Veneto (Part 2)
Varigotti – West Liguria Riviera (Part 2)
Suvereto – Tuscany (Part 2)
Todi – Umbria (Part 2)
Nemi – Castelli Romani, Lazio (Part 3)
Castellaneta Marina – Puglia (Part 3)
Cabras – Sardinia (Part 3)
Pantelleria – Sicily (Part 3)
Val Aurina – Alto Adige
Alto Adige (or South Tyrol), the region of the Dolomite mountains, has belonged to Italy since 1919, after the end of World War I. Most of the people speak German, and a small minority speak the traditional language called Ladino. They are, the most ancient inhabitants of the valleys around the Sella Group, Val Aurina is the most northern valley in Italy: it begins in Campo Tures and expands to the borders with Austria. It is not as famous as Gardena and Badia Valleys and perhaps it does not welcome visitors with equally breathtaking scenery, but it offers a good advantage: moderate prices combined with full year touristic facilities. In the winter, you can enjoy two well-equipped areas for alpine skiing and two wonderful plateaus for cross-country skiing. In the summer, there are a wide range of walks and trips of varying difficulty. The landscape is a never- ending green expansion of meadows dotted with yellow and lilac alpine flowers and rows of towering conifers.
In Campo Tures, the most popular and expensive site in the valley, prices are usually lower than 4.000 euro / sqm. It is important to keep in mind that in Alto Adige real estate market is subject to a special regulation which favours residential buyers: there are few houses for non-residents so you must be patient and quick to make a decision when a property is available. If you are thinking about purchasing a country house or a maso (a traditional farm surrounded by trees and pasture) be ready to face a nearly impossible mission.
Cannobio - Lake Maggiore
Situated on the Piedmont side in the high part of Lake Maggiore, Cannobio is the last Italian city before the Swiss border. On the road from Vernabia to Cannobio, the charm of the lake constantly merges with the alpine landscape: you can see peaks higher than 3,000 meters literally rising from the water (Monte Rosa is no more than 50 km far away). On the left side of the road, the valleys degrading to the lake hide small villages keeping their traditions untouched.
The original core of Cannobio, today called the “Borgo”, is made of narrow streets surrounded by tall buildings, with the purpose to make it easier to defend the city from the enemies coming from the lake. The walk on the lakefront from the southern point called “Amore” (Love) towards the beach (“Lido”), provides a view on the multicoloured row of buildings overlooking the lake; most of them date back to 18th and 19th century. The porticos are home to little shops and cafés. In the summer, the beach is crowded with people sunbathing or swimming in the chilly waters of the lake. The inland Cannobina valley, populated by characteristic villages offers enjoyable trips towards the Val Grande National Park, the largest wild area in Central Europe. The medieval hamlet of Carmime Superiore is remarkable with its gem of 14th century, the church of San Gottardo.
The price of a home ranges from 3,000 to 4,000 euros /sqm depending on the status and the position (the Borgo and lake-front are the most expensive zones). The prices for a country house in Cannobina valley are lower.
Massimo Viola is the founder of Liguria for Sale, a web guide for people who want to buy a home in Liguria (Italy). In the Blog Section of the site, you can find topics about Italy and Liguria tourist property market.
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