Would you like to own a home in the Italian countryside? For many of us it’s the ultimate Italian dream, surrounded by the sights and smells that inspired centuries of writers and artists. The Italian countryside is easy to reach, welcoming and affordable. So, the $64,000 question is, could you do it? Not only can you, but the price for many lovely country homes isn’t much over €64,000 either!
Imagine waking up in the morning to the sound of birdsong and seeing the sun beaming through the window. Mornings spent drinking coffee on your terrace looking at the view and deciding what vegetables you will pick from the garden or buy from the village market. Then bringing all those fresh ingredients together in your farmhouse kitchen!
Living in the countryside you become aware of all the colours and tastes of the seasons. You’ll be walking in wild flowers in the spring, and gazing up at trees displaying their warm colours in autumn. And above it all, the night sky sparkles with millions of stars, free from light pollution. Although olive trees and vineyards can be found in many regions, you may also discover that your land has figs, almonds, chestnuts, walnuts, lemons, oranges, apples and even truffles! It all depends on the climate and landscape of your chosen Italian region, but country regions are beautiful from top to bottom of the country. The evidence is that more and more of us are finding that the dream of living here is possible.
I’ve lived in the Italian countryside for over 11 years now and there is nowhere I’d rather be
Living in the countryside
I’ve lived in the Italian countryside for over 11 years now and there is nowhere I’d rather be. It’s fantastic having all that space around us and being able to walk down our land several times a day to see what is growing. There are no houses overlooking us and life is peaceful and relaxing. The cost of living is great here too. Taxes are lower in the countryside and you don’t have to go far to buy fresh local produce. Country people are very neighbourly and will often welcome newcomers to the area with fruit and vegetables from their land, or even a bottle of their own wine.
Things to consider
Country homes often come with land, so it is worth considering whether you will be able to maintain the building and land yourself, or need to budget to get in help. If you like to have great countryside views, without having to work on it, another option is to buy a house on a small plot on the edge of a hill top village. If you plan on living in the house through the winter, do consider if you will love the location as much on a rainy day.
Want a holiday home but worried about the cost? Why not pool finances and buy with family? Explore our guide, Buying Abroad with Family.
Decide what your priorities are regarding location, especially if you want to rent your property to tourists. Country homes offer the chance to start a rural tourism business, potentially even with a government grant, but how far is it from the nearest shop, hospital and airport? Are the roads accessible in winter and can you get an internet signal? Does the area have places of interest for your visitors, such as restaurants, cafes, hiking trails, skiing, national parks, beaches and beautiful towns and villages.
Having helpful neighbours and a friendly local community can make all the difference. You should also make yourself aware of those areas that have had earthquakes and ensure that the building meets safety requirements.
Where to look for a country home in Italy
Tuscany has attracted British house buyers for many years, drawn by the beautiful rolling green hills, vineyards and olive groves. Many people carry a picture in their mind of a winding tree-lined road, leading up to a charmingly rustic farmhouse. Houses in the most famous locations, such as Chianti, carry the biggest price tags, but the scenery is stunning and there are some gorgeous country estates. However, if you venture to the north and south of the region there are still lovely farmhouses to be found at more affordable prices.
Around the historic town of Lucca you can find some lovely rural houses. By going to the far north, almost into Emilia-Romagna, there are some great bargains to be found in Lunigiana. This is an area surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, chestnut oaks, castles and monuments. Both areas offer the opportunity to go hiking, horse riding and mountain biking.
House prices in Tuscany
In Lunigiana and Lucca provinces it is possible to buy farm houses to renovate from €150,000 and a three-bedroom restored property for around €300,000. In comparison, a ruined farmhouse to completely restore near Florence could set you back over €270,000. However, even in the province of Florence it is possible to buy a stone house that is ready to move in for €285,000. It really depends how far into the countryside you want to be!
Tuscany may be the most famous, but Italy has many beautiful regions that have equally amazing countryside. Due to Italy’s excellent network of roads, rail and airports they are all easy to get to. Apulia for example, has two airports with flights from the UK.
If you’re ready to start looking at homes in the Italian countryside, get your free Italian Viewing Trip Guide today. It’s packed with tips and checklists to ensire you’re asking the right questions and staying in control.
Here are some regions to consider:
Look up into the hills around Lake Como and you will find charming little stone houses perched on the hillside. These properties make great holiday retreats and often benefit from wide views of the hills and lakes. The areas around the lakes of Como, Garda, Isea and Maggiore are also popular with those who enjoy cycling, running and hiking, with the varied landscape of green hills, small villages and mountains. The country areas of Lombardy are very convenient for anyone working in Milan or wanting to use the city airports.
House Prices: A rustic stone house in the hills or mountains around Lake Como can cost as little as €300,000. The closer you get to the lakes the more expensive they get and of course accessibility and lake views make a big difference to the price. Start your country house search in Lombardy.
Emilia-Romagna isn’t one of the most well-known regions but foodies will have come across some of its quality products, such as Parma ham, Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar. The region is also said to have the best restaurants in Italy. Like its neighbour Tuscany, you will find lovely stone farmhouses with terracotta tiled rooves and window shutters. Good road links make it easy to visit the elegant cities of both regions, especially if you look around the areas either side of the main routes between Bologna and Florence. The countryside south of Parma, Modena and Reggio Emilia can be particularly good value.
House Prices in Emilia-Romagna: For a house surrounded by green countryside you could pay as little as €70,000. Start your property search in Emilia-Romagna.
Moving south of Tuscany is Umbria, referred to locally as the “Green heart of Italy”. The countryside has sweeping and undulating hills with open vistas and medieval hilltop towns. It’s a dream for hikers and lovers of fine wine, cheeses and truffles. Although, it isn’t bordered by the sea the region has some beautiful lakes with the area around Lake Trasimeno is particularly popular. It is near here that singer/song writer Ed Sheeran has bought a home. Two of the most attractive areas are the Vale of Spoleto in the region’s centre and the Upper Tiber valley in the north.
House prices: It is still possible to find stone farmhouses to renovate from €110,000. Two-bedroom villas ready to move into go from about €170,000. Start your country house search in Umbria.
Between Umbria and the Adriatic Sea is the region of Le Marche. It’s a land steeped in culture, art and nature. From the tops of the Sibillini mountains, across the rolling hills, right down to the beautiful beaches, there is scenery to suit everyone. You will also find that strong sense of community and a warm welcome. It is a great place to live all year round too: you can ski in the winter, hike in the spring and lie on the beach in the summer.
After the popularity of Tuscany and then Umbria, le Marche has only more recently begun to be discovered by foreign buyers. But it is proving especially popular for those looking for a quiet life in the countryside. As you would expect property prices get cheaper the further inland from the coast you go, and there are some very large farmhouses.
House prices in Le Marche: You will pay from €170,000 for a large hill top farmhouse needing renovation. There are also renovated properties for sale that are large enough to offer holiday accommodation from €550,000. Start your country house search in le Marche.
The unspoilt countryside of Puglia has become increasingly popular with both tourists and foreign buyers in recent years. This is partly due to the increase in flights to the airports at Bari and Brindisi, but also because of the superb climate and low cost of properties. This is a very rural region of mainly olive trees and vineyards with architecture that is very unique. Many British people are drawn to the slightly hillier areas around Ostuni and through to Alberobello. This is the area where you are most likely to find a trullo, one of those cone-shaped buildings that many people have converted into cool and quirky holiday homes. But there are also single story villas surrounded by olive groves and fruit trees that make great homes all year round.
If you want a larger farmhouse that you can live in year-round with extra bedrooms to rent out, then you need to look out for a Masseria. These farmhouses are totally different to the ones you see further north. They are built with large blocks of sandstone and have large walled courtyards. Britain’s popular actress Helen Mirren and her American husband own one as a holiday retreat and enjoy the privacy of having plenty of land around it.
House prices: Trullo to renovate cost from €60,000. A two-bedroom renovated Trulli or villa cost from €120,000. A large Masseria to renovate starts at around €250,000 but prices vary greatly depending on size and condition, some extremely large ones can cost a million.
Viewing country property
I’ve never seen two Italian countryside homes that look exactly the same, and each location will also be unique and have its pros and cons. For this reason it’s important to view a few properties to judge for yourself each buildings appearance, layout, its condition, the location and the price, and then make comparisons. As a guide I have put together a list of things to consider when “viewing country houses in Italy”.