Written by Julia Silk,
Last Modified: 16th December 2021

The Italian government is selling off a selection of its state-owned properties in an ambitious plan to raise €1.2billion. Most exciting are the buildings of historic interest and those in prime city centre locations.

Whilst travelling through Italy many house hunters comment that they have seen abandoned buildings and wondered “who owns that?”, and “why has it been left abandoned?”. Whenever I’ve asked about such a building, I’ve been told “It’s owned by the State”. In some cases, they are ex-workers homes related to state owned companies and others are large historic properties previously owned by someone with no heirs, and hence been passed to the State.

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There are various reasons why the state has acquired so many buildings, but at a time when the government need to demonstrate they are tackling Italy’s public debt, it does offer them the opportunity to rake in some extra cash. The current government have been reluctant to sell their stakes in large companies, or to consider further privatisation, so selling some buildings by auction is one quick way to raise at least a small part of the money they need.

This lighthouse is for sale, just 100 metres from the sea

Italy’s historic houses auctioned

The 93 buildings to be auctioned are in Abruzzo, Calabria, Campania, Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Liguria, Lombardy, Marche, Molise, Piemonte, Sicily, Tuscany, Umbria and Veneto. There are various types of property being offered for sale. These include some beautiful historic palaces, ex-convents, roadman’s houses, city apartments, commercial premises, offices, restaurants and even a light house.

Many of the larger properties for sale have great potential to be redeveloped as hotels, restaurants, shared work spaces and offices

Among the more affordable properties are the roadman’s houses. Named “cantoniere” houses they are characterized by the typical Pompeian red colour and were once used by workers involved in the ongoing maintenance of a four to five kilometre section of road, called a “cantone”. Many of the larger properties for sale have great potential to be redeveloped as hotels, or to create other kind of work such as for shared work spaces and offices.

The Former Convent of San Salvador in Venice is among the most prestigious buildings on the list. This three-storey building with two beautiful cloisters is superbly located near the Rialto Bridge. Among the business premises on offer, there are commercial spaces in Siena’s historic Palazzo buildings, a restaurant in the historic centre of Florence and a hotel near Salsomaggiore Terme’s thermal spa.

Where to find details

The State Property Agency is called Agencia Del Demanio. Its website has photographs and information regarding property for sale. They are grouped into the following categories: Residenziale (residential), Commerciale (commercial), Ex caserma (former barracks), Ex convent (ex-convents), Ex carcere (ex-prison), Terreno (land), Immobile storico (historic buildings) and Industriale direzionale (Industrial).

Perhaps you could buy one of Italy’s historic homes with friends or family, for a rural business or long-term project. Explore our guide, Buying Abroad with Family.

By clicking on each property picture you’ll find further details in Italian. Information includes: Typologia (Type), Superficie lorda (size of inside areas), Superficie scoperta (size of outside area), Usi ammessi (permitted uses), Stato bene (condition) and indirizzo (address). It also shows distances to the centro citta (city centre), siti d’interesse (sites of interest), stazione  (train station) and an Aeroporto (airport). All of this vocabulary could come in useful in your own Italian property search.

Your own palace in Florence

How will the properties be auctioned?

The public buildings identified by the State Property Agency, will be sold through the Notarial Network (RAN), using an IT system created by the National Council of Notaries for the management of online auctions. This allows citizens to participate through RAN notary offices located throughout the country. The first auction is on the 16th October with the first call for bids, relating to 50 properties, expiring on 15th October. The second, for 37 properties is to expire on 15th November, 2019. Other opportunities are expected in the future.

For innovative ideas on raising the money to buy your Italian palace, read How to Pay for an Italian Property.

If you aren’t in a position to buy a property from one of these auctions, don’t worry. There are many similar residential properties across Italy for sale through one of our trusted partner estate agents. For further inspiration take a look at the selection of properties available on our property search page.

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The process of buying property in Italy is significantly different from here in the UK. This is why we’ve created our completely free Italy Buying Guide, to provide those dreaming of a new life in Italy with all of the practical, legal, and financial information needed to help them realise that dream.

  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

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