Fancy an Investment in La Dolce Vita?

Italy’s property ranges from city apartments to historic country houses; from ultra-modern chic to medieval homes of wonderful character. The choice is as wide as you’ll find anywhere else in the world. And the prices reflect this, with one bedroom townhouses in Sicily from less than £6,000 to properties well into eight figures.

Investment potential

The seasoned investors among you will take price rise predictions with a pinch of salt. And this article doesn’t intend to make any. It’s accurate to say, however, that average Italian property prices have risen at around 4 -5% over the past few years. But because Italy, like many European nations, is so diverse, this figure doesn’t paint the full picture. Some new coastal developments have shot up in value by as much as 30%, while neglected areas of the country have seen prices stagnate – or even fall.

But Italy is a favourite with many holidaymakers from across the continent. Furthermore, tour operators find there’s a lot of repeat business for Italy. It seems that once you’ve been, you can’t stop yourself from returning. And many Italians also like to take their breaks on the Venetian Lido, in the ski resorts of the Dolomites, or at the country’s southern shores. So the best option for the investor is probably the buy-to-let properties in or around the well-known locations.

Popular areas

Don’t assume, however, that just because a location is popular it is uniformly expensive. Regions such as Tuscany and Umbria have some desirable and highly-priced villas, certainly. But they also have properties in beautiful country districts for reasonable sums – especially if you’re prepared to roll up your shirt sleeves and renovate.

A four bedroom restored farmhouse with a pool near Siena in Tuscany can set you back £600,000. But you can find a three bedroom, two bathroom village home in perfect condition for around £110,000. As for that place in need of care and attention … well, you can get a 3- 5 bedroom barn conversion project for £50,000 to £55,000.

In Umbria, you can own a new three bedroom apartment in Perugia for £220,000. Or in the same price bracket, you have a choice of farmhouse restoration projects. The region also has some well-priced townhouses in walk-in condition from just £38,000.

The most famous style of property in Southern Italy is the distinctive trulli. These are not to everyone’s taste but are popular with holidaymakers – so much so that the region has now granted planning permission for the construction of new trulli homes. The prices of the originals start from around £22,000 (for two bedrooms).

Elsewhere in the South, it is possible to snap up a three bedroom, three bathroom villa with pool and grounds for £272,000.

In the cities, be prepared to spend lavishly. You will doubtless have little difficulty renting a property overlooking a Venetian canal but expect to pay from £720,000 for a modest apartment. And if you like the idea of a pad in the centre of Rome, your price range needs to start in the low seven figures.

On the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, there is a mix of villas and apartments, both new and old. Prices vary considerably, but a two bedroom villa with sea views outside Taormina (Sicily) will cost around £187,000. On Sardinia, you can buy a three bedroom villa, also with sea views, for £238,000.

But no matter where you look in Italy, you have a great choice. This isn’t an area where the property market is booming. After all, some of the townhouses and apartments for sale are set in buildings that are almost a thousand years old. Nonetheless, you can make a sound investment in a country that was one of the first in Europe to develop a tourist trade – and an interest in property.