It’s long been a favourite destination for holidaymakers and culture vultures, but Tuscany has always attracted international property buyers too. Why do they come and what can they buy for their money? Explore this beautiful landscape and discover the farming communities in charming hill top villages. See why so many people choose to live here, in our property guide to Tuscany.
Thoughts of Tuscany conjure images of the Duomo in Florence, the leaning tower of Pisa, rolling hills, vineyards and a road lined with cypress trees leading to a farmhouse on a hill. Tuscany is admired as a place of culture, art and sophisticated rural life, which attracts both tourists and house buyers. The British have been buying property here for many years and property prices have soared since those early days. Now “Chiantishire” has some of the most expensive farmhouses in the world.
Don’t be disheartened! There are still affordable areas, particularly in the far north and south of the region.
But don’t be disheartened! There are still affordable areas, particularly in the far north and south of the region. Tuscany’s continued popularity with foreign buyers and tourists has created a stable housing market and there are great opportunities for property owners to get good holiday rental returns.
Tuscany’s UNESCO World Heritage sites
Visitors are drawn to Tuscany’s seven UNESCO World heritage sites. These are: 1. The historic centre of Florence. 2. Piazza del Duomo in Pisa, with its famous leaning tower. 3. The historic centre of San Gimignano, with its 15 towers. 4. The historic centre of Siena. 5. The historic centre of Pienza. 6. Val d’Orcia, for its iconic Tuscan landscape. 7. Medici Villas and pleasure Gardens. These 12 villas and two gardens are spread across the Tuscan landscape and bear testimony to the influence of the Medici family. Built between the 15th and 17th centuries these princely villas were constructed in harmony with nature and were dedicated to leisure, the arts and knowledge.
There are so many beautiful villages in Tuscany, you are sure to discover many more places that you think should be on the list. You can find more information on individual villages on e-borghi.com.
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Tuscany is in central Italy and stretches from the Apennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Between the Provinces of Florence and Siena, the Chianti Valley has always been considered the heart of old Tuscany, well known around the world for its famous wines. Within the triangle of Siena, San Gimignano and the Chianti hills you find the most popular area for foreign buyers, with its rolling hills and vineyards. Property prices and renovation costs can be high in this area, but potential rental income is also high.
Strict planning laws restrict new building and ensure that any restoration work maintains the region’s traditional style and character. Although this can be frustrating for adventurous renovators, it does mean that when you buy an already restored home it will have a good finish and that the beauty of Tuscany won’t be spoilt by ugly buildings.
The coastline alternates between long sandy beaches, rocky cliffs and steep headlands. In the province of Livorno there are many traces left behind from the ancient Etruscan civilization. Long beaches, and cliffs lie in front of pine woodlands and well-known touristic spots, such as Castiglioncello, Rosignano Marittimo, Marina di Bibbona, Marina di Cecina, the Gulf of Baratti and Populonia, which are rich in history and precious archaeological artifacts. Nature lovers can enjoy the many protected areas like the steep heights of the Apuan Alps, Orbetello Lagoon, the Maremma National Park and the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, the best known of which is the beautiful Island of Elba.
The provinces of Tuscany are Florence (the regional capital), Arezzo, Grosseto, Livorno, Lucca, Massa and Carrara, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena.
Florence is a real open-air museum containing countless beautiful buildings, including the Duomo, Giotto’s Bell Tower, The Baptistry of San Giovanni, Santa Maria Novella, Palazzo Vecchio, the Pitti Palace, the Uffizi Gallery and not forgetting the Ponte Vecchio bridge across the Arno river. Recognized as the cradle of the Renaissance, Florence attracts millions of Italian and foreign tourists each year to admire the churches, architecture, and museums that make it so unique. It’s a fairly small city and so most people choose to walk through the historic streets, but it also has good train and bus services for those commuting from the outskirts.
The Florentines are very aware of their architectural past, and have preserved original building techniques and use traditional materials. They understand the importance of protecting and preserving the cultural heritage of the city too. This is particularly true in the historic centre, which is a UNESCO World heritage site.
A small apartment in Florence can cost from €175,000. Of course, you will pay a premium for a place in the historic centre or with views. For a home in a prestigious area, maybe a palazzo with frescoed ceilings, you’ll need a starting budget of half a million euros. Check out these two: a one-bedroom apartment for €550,000 and a two-bedroom for €850,000. However, a good location will also generate good returns from tourist rentals. For a more permanent residence this three-bedroom apartment in the Santa Croce district is located by the colourful market. It certainly gives it a more authentic local feel.
Florence has always been popular with the British and its British expat community is still going strong. The Duchess of Cambridge did her gap year here as an art history student, and you’ll certainly be welcomed here too.
Although prices can be high around Florence, you can avoid being ripped off if you learn a few negotiating skills. Read our free Negotiation Guide before you make an offer.
Lucca is unique among Tuscan cities. It has maintained its wide city walls and turned the top of them into a park circling the old town. It’s a place to walk, cycle and relax. The town has a number of pretty piazzas, most notably the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, site of an ancient Roman amphitheatre. You also suck up the atmosphere in Piazzale Verdi, Piazza Napoleone and Piazza San Michele.
Lucca hosts the Lucca Summer Festival each year which attracts top music artists. In recent years Lucca and the surrounding villages have become more and more popular with British house buyers. The area combines good holiday rental prospects with very reasonable property prices. It is also well located to reach Pisa airport and to make trips to Florence. A one-bedroom apartment in the historic centre will cost you from about €200,000. But the same budget will net you a three-bedroom house in the villages around. You can see some attractive houses around Lucca here.
Siena is a magnificent city of art with characteristic alleyways, towers, artisan shops and beautiful buildings. The city is famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and the Palio, a horse race held twice a year. The surrounding area has characterful villages (borghi) such as San Quirico d’Orcia or San Gimignano, Montepulciano and Castiglione d’Orcia. You can still find apartments and town houses at good prices here.
The landscape of Val d’Orcia is part of the agricultural hinterland of Siena and demonstrates the beauty of a well-managed Renaissance agricultural landscape. If you dream of having a country house but your budget won’t stretch to a luxury wine estate, there are properties to renovate here. There are also some larger properties that have already been renovated and split into smaller units with shared facilities, such as a pool and gardens. Like this one in Sarteano.
Pisa is only an hour on the coach from Florence. Its airport is the one most commonly used by British tourists coming to Tuscany. There are good B&Bs within a few minutes’ walk of the airport, offering travellers a good night’s sleep before an early morning flight. The town has a nice local feel to it, and of course the highlight is the leaning tower of Pisa, Duomo and Baptistery.
The province of Pisa stretches to the coast and is also home to the thermal springs of Casciana, San Giuliano and Uliveto. Explore the south of the province to find the best house prices in and around villages such as Volterra and Montescudaio. There are many lovely stone houses with all the traditional Tuscan features. See a good selection of home for sale in Pisa property pages.
Arezzo is an amazing city known for its goldsmiths and antiques traders. Among its highlights are the Medici Fortress, the Cathedral, the Diocesan Museum and the Basilica of San Domenico. The city is also home to an Archaeological Museum and a Museum of Medieval and Modern Art. Within the province there are many other interestiing towns and villages such as Cortona and San Giovanni Valdarno.
You can find castles and religious buildings across the province, some of which you can even buy. More prosaically, you can buy a three-bedroom stone house near Arezzo for less than €300,000. Take a look at what Arezzo has to offer property buyers.
Most Affordable Areas of Tuscany
In the far north of Tuscany the hills are full of charming villages where you can really get away from town life. Moreover, you’ll find property prices to suite the lowest budget. In particular, villages north of Lucca are gaining interest from British buyers. There are some real bargains to be found and yet you can still be well placed to visit the coast, wild life parks, a ski resort, Lucca, Pisa and even Florence. Train connections are good and property is well-priced.
Between Lucca and the Garfagnana mountains you will find the beautiful hill town of Barga. In the summer Barga has a lively nightlife with opera and jazz festivals. The main attractions are the Romanesque Duomo, the Renaissance buildings and the theatre. It is also considered the most Scottish town in Italy. That’s down to the scenery as well as the number of locals who emigrated to Scotland at the end of the 1800s. Indeed they introduced the Scots to Gelato, and the Italians to fish and chips.
Gallicano, Fosciandro, Castelnuovo Garfagnana, Bagni di Lucca and Borgo a Mozzano are nearby and use the same road route into Lucca, and on to Pisa airport. This route also roughly follows the Serchio river and a train line. It can cost as little as €9 by train from Pisa airport to Barga.
Heading along the coast towards Genoa, if you head inland there are very well priced properties, for example around Lunigiano. Even inland from the coast in the province of Livorno you can get a lot of house for your money.
Want a holiday home but worried about the cost? Why not pool finances and buy with family? Explore our guide, Buying Abroad with Family.
After the great success of the book and film Under the Tuscan Sun, the area around Cortona has attracted the attention of many property buyers looking for a house to renovate. There are still some nice properties for good prices in the area between Siena and Perugia. In some cases Perugia may even be the nearest airport, even though its over the border in Umbria. The village of Cetona has some low prices, with apartments from as cheap as €60,000.
You can read more about where to find less expensive Italian homes here.
Tuscan homes 800k plus
There are some stunning country houses for sale in the upper price bracket. These include large farmhouses to renovate to your own taste and houses already finished to a high standard with pools and vineyards. At this price you can expect good sized plots of land and amazing views. Some of these properties also have the potential to make an income from tourist accommodation.
Can you see yourself sitting on your terrace looking out across miles of green rolling hills? Maybe with a glass of wine from your own vineyard? Or looking out of the window of a British apartment? Which would you choose?! If the former, take a look at our selected houses for sale in Tuscany.
This property in Tuscany has nine bedrooms spread across a detached cottage and three apartments. Click the image for more details.
At this end of the property market it can be better to get professional help in finding yoiur dream home. Why not try our free Italy Property Hunter service.
Getting to Tuscany
All the major airlines fly into Pisa airport. Ryanair flies from East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow Prestwick, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool and Stansted. Easyjet flies from Gatwick, Luton, Bristol and Manchester. British Airways flies from Gatwick, Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol and Glasgow and also fly from London City Airport to Florence. The closest airport to Florence city centre is the Amerigo Vespucci International Airport, which is only a 15 minutes’ drive from the city by taxi.
For north-west Tuscany you could also use Genoa airport, while Perugia airport may be closer for some towns in Southern Tuscany. The large airports of Bologna, Milan and Rome are another possibility as they have good road and rail links.
Just 15 minutes train ride from Pisa you can be at the coastal town of Livorna or in Torre del Lago on Lake Massaciuccoli. In 30 minutes you can be in Lucca. If you hire a car there are good roads between all the cities and train and coach services are very good.