How To Buy A House In Italy

Have you ever dreamed about owning a home in Italy?

I dream about it every day. Literally. In fact I figure that if I sell about a million more books I can actually buy a place in Italy!

Realistically you can buy a home in Italy and in many cases you really don’t need a fortune to be able to do it. You just need some really good guidance.

Bramasole Frances Mayes house in Cortona, Tuscany
Bramasole, Frances Mayes’ home in Cortona, Italy

For me the dream of owning a home in Italy started in 1998 when my mother gave me a copy of Frances Maye’s iconic book Under The Tuscan Sun. I was living in Los Angeles at the time, a city where anything is possible, so I let myself fall under Frances Mayes’ spell and imagined having my own house in a little Tuscan town. From then on I read every book I could get my hands on about buying and renovating homes in Italy, or more to the point, books where other people had done it.

Spello Umbria flowers cobblestoned street
Beautiful Spello in Umbria

Then in my endless travels to and from Italy I wound up meeting plenty of expats who had done it themselves. Bought old homes, renovated them and now are living there either part time or full time. One of my very dear friends bought a 1000 year old abandoned house in Basilicata, did an unbelievable renovation on it, making it into apartments, one of which she lives in and the others she made into Airbnbs.

Spello in Umbria, Italy
Spello, Umbria

I think that more than anywhere else in Europe Italy affords us unbelievable opportunities to buy a home in an incredible old town with sensational views, a history that goes back to the beginning of time and a chance to really take part in the dream.

La Rabatana, Basilicata
The little town of La Rabatana in southern Basilicata

There are so many little towns and villages all over Italy that are slowly becoming abandoned or where the population is drastically diminishing. The young folk move to the big cities for work, or leave the country altogether and there is no one left to take over the properties. The property values drop as the population dwindles and more and more homes becomes available to buy.

 Some of these towns try to entice buyers with offers of homes for 1 euro or other incredibly low rates paired with a commitment from you to invest a set sum of money into renovating the property or into settling there for 5 years and opening a business – there are lots of variables.

Villa in Tuscany
Living the dream in Tuscany

I have a friend who bought a rundown house for 8000 euros and then spent around 50,000 euros on the rebuild, not only getting an incredible home to live in at a totally manageable price, but also being able to generate income from it with a seasonal bed and breakfast business.

I have other friends who are wealthy enough to buy whatever they want, so a massive villa in Tuscany is an easy purchase.

Villa on the Amalfi Coast of Italy
Italy’s beautiful Amalfi Coast

Obviously if you are planning on buying a house in Venice or Florence or Rome or any highly populated place the costs will be sky high. On the other hand if you buy in Puglia or Abruzzo or Molise for example it can be incredibly cost effective.

The Downside Of Buying Property In Italy

In reality buying a property in a foreign country can be fraught with pitfalls, money traps and nightmare scenarios. Even if you speak the language well chances are you don’t speak real estate Italian or legalese Italian or renovation Italian. The system for buying property there is different, the taxes are different, the rules are different.

For example you can buy a home that had an unapproved addition put on generations ago. The addition doesn’t come to the attention of the authorities until the property sells, and now you are legally responsible for removing it and returning the property to its “legal” state at a crippling expense.

Burano, Italy

A New Service Available To Foreign Buyers

A friend of mine from Australia who lives in Italy has recently been getting written up in magazines and publications all around the world for a new service that she provides to foreign property buyers in Italy.

Nikki Taylor has created a program called How To Confidently Buy Property In Italy.

Using her extensive knowledge both in Italian Real Estate and in investment banking she has created a service that helps guide foreign buyers to both understand and streamline the property buying process.

What The Program Covers

*The property buying procedure in Italy

*Where in Italy should you be looking, based on your lifestyle requirements

*How to avoid very common and very costly mistakes when buying property in Italy

*The additional costs and taxes that come with buying property in Italy

*How to mitigate currency exchange risk

*How to arrange an effective buying trip from your home country.

On top of this her program has a team of bilingual professionals to help you navigate the big stuff. She offers an Italy based property lawyer, an accountant, Visa and Immigration expert and a Currency expert. Each of whom can guide you through the complexities and hidden loopholes that come with buying property not only in a foreign country but in a foreign language.

Rather than being specific to one area or town Nikki’s program is designed to help you wherever you are looking to buy in Italy.

Her service runs as a 5 week course you can take with weekly live question and answer sessions. She also has a book available on Amazon called How To Confidently Buy Property In Italy that goes into much more depth about the service she provides. The book is available on Kindle or if you don’t have a kindle (like me!) you can get the book on the Kindle App.

It’s easy to see why major publications around the world are writing about her brilliant program and service. The main stumbling blocks that were deterring me from seriously contemplating buying property in Italy have all been addressed by Nikki, so now I know that when the time is right for me I can step into her program and confidently buy a home in Italy.

Get your copy of How To Confidently Buy Property In Italy on Amazon HERE

Nikki in Bolzano, Northern Italy. She now lives in sunny Puglia in the south of Italy

Want more information about Nikki, buying houses in Italy and her world renowned program? You can contact her via her website here

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How To Buy Your Dream Home In Italy

How To Travel Italy On A Really Tight Budget

Do you want to travel to Italy (or pretty much anywhere) but think it’s out of your budget? There is no better time than now to travel. None of us know what is right around the corner, from unexpected illnesses to international turmoil, to the price of oil going up astronomically making air travel unaffordable.

I have been traveling all my life, sometimes with money, often without. As a single mom for several years my only way to travel was on a really tight budget. But I would always rather travel at a lower cost than miss out.

And let’s face it, the monuments, ancient buildings an incredible views stay the same whether you are doing a 5 star trip or a budget adventure.

Venice canals and rios away from the crowds
Venice, away from the crowds

If you want to travel to Italy but can’t see how to afford it, these tips make a huge difference!

It Starts With The Best Flight Deals

I go into this in depth in my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy, and I recommend reading that section of the book before even starting to look for flights so that you don’t get airlines and consolidators tracking you and pushing the prices up.

Get Creative

There are some creative ways to being the cost of flight way down. For example flying from Phoenix to Rome normally prices around $1300-$1500 round trip. But if I fly out of Los Angeles instead, the price drops closer to $800. A one way flight to Los Angeles is around $80, so I still save hundred on my ticket.

One time a friend and I got a rental car in Phoenix and drove it to the airport in L.A. It cost $20 in car rental plus a tank of gas. We had loads of fun on the road trip and saved money while we were at it!

Seek Out Cheaper Airports

Internal flights in Europe are not expensive. Sometimes you can save hundreds more dollars by going to a different airport then catching an internal European flight. For example, I have found flights on Air New Zealand (one of the top 5 international carriers) from Los Angeles to London Heathrow for around $450 round trip. Heathrow – Rome round trip can be done for under $200, so in this case for a total of $650 you can fly to Italy. There are always deals to be found if you spend the time clicking around.

Oh Canada!

You can find killer deals to Italy out of Canada. One of my Glam Italia Tour travelers flew out of Windsor airport which is only 8km from Detroit. Using Air Canada she got an incredible round trip deal, again in the $600s.

There are great prices on flights out of Toronto too. Sometimes you can get a really good deal flying into Toronto and from there winging your way to Italy.

Avoid Peak Season

For the most part the busiest travel season doesn’t offer the greatest deals, although I often find fantastic round trip flights in June and September. It takes some patience, but spending time researching can pay off. The shoulder season normally has better deals though.

Use Miles

I wrote about how to score free flights using frequent flier miles in this post.

You can do something as simple as running your life through a credit card that has a strong mileage program, like Capital One Venture card, and get more free flights than you would think. In the last 10 years I have done 5 round trips to Europe on frequent flier miles, 1 round trip to Australia and this past year 1 round trip to New Zealand. Suffice to say that a good mileage program is a game changer.

I never, ever waste miles on domestic flights, choosing instead to save them for international flights. If you can pay as many of your bills as possible with a good travel card, and do all your groceries, gas/trains – everything possible on that card you will be amazed at how fast you can accumulate enough points for a flight.

2. Don’t Stay In Hotels

In general hotels are the most expensive way to go. Vacation rentals, Bed and Breakfasts and home stays can save you a small fortune when you travel.

Splitting the cost of an apartment with a couple of friends not only saves you money on the overnight costs but also lets you prepare some meals at home.

A cozy bed and breakfast can be much less expensive than a hotel, and frequently is much nicer anyway.

I have a friend who travels to Italy for a month at a time with her husband and is able to do it because they do home stays. Basically the rent a room in someone’s house. Not only has this method meant they can travel more often and for longer, but also they have made some fantastic friends along the way!

3. Don’t Stay In The City Center

Normally the most expensive accommodation is in the heart of town or if near the ocean, the places with a view. Most tourism is focused right in the center of town so staying one neighborhood back can save you a significant amount on your nightly expense, while still being in walking distance to everywhere you want to go.

side street in Rome's Trastevere district
Trastevere, Rome

Just be careful not to make your trip more expensive by staying too far out and incurring large transport costs!

4. Choose A Less Expensive City

The most touristed cities have the highest costs. You can often save a huge amount on accommodation by staying somewhere less touristed.

scooter in Arezzo, Tuscany
Arezzo, Tuscany is just 40 minutes by local train from Florence

For example in the Amalfi Coast area staying in Salerno, a gorgeous medieval town on the water, will cost about 1/3 of the cost of staying in Positano or Sorrento.

If Florence is pricing too high look at Bologna, another absolutely beautiful city that is also on a main train line. Italy has so many unbelievably beautiful towns and cities to choose from, so don’t just look at the most well known.

5. Travel By Train

Italy has a really fantastic train system that lets you go almost anywhere, for a comparatively low price.

RELATED POST: HOW TO USE THE TRAINS IN ITALY

When I am traveling on a super tight budget I save lots of money by staying only in towns and cities that are easily accessible by train, and then getting around by train. This saves an enormous amount of money on rental cars, super cover insurance, toll roads and gasoline.

I have also used Flix Bus in Italy, although only once. The trip from Genoa to Florence cost 20 euros, the bus was modern and well equipped (it was super nice!) and we even got a coffee break midway through the trip.

6. Eat Where The Locals Eat

In Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy I have a chapter on how to choose a restaurant in Italy. (Well worth reading) Restaurants and eateries that are geared towards tourists are guaranteed to separate you from your money quickly, and normally with substandard food.

trattoria in Trastevere Rome
Trattoria in Trastevere, Rome

Italians take food seriously and wouldn’t be caught dead in a tourist restaurant. Save your money and go eat where the locals eat. The food will be fantastic and the price will be reasonable. For example, one of my favorite trattorias in Rome is always packed to bursting, but a pizza costs 4 euros and a half liter of wine costs 4 euros. So for under 10 euros you can have a full belly and be happy as a clam! (I tell you the name of the restaurant in my book Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome)

7. Book Online Before You Leave

Most of the places you need to buy tickets for really aren’t expensive at all. If you make a list of what you are interested in seeing and then book tickets online ahead of time you can not only save money but also budget more easily. Most of the tickets cost between 10 and 20 euros. Picking and choosing a few things ahead of time and purchasing them online can free up money while you’re away. Most of us can squeeze out an extra $10 here and there for an entry ticket without noticing it, rather than having to budget another $100 all at once.

Colosseum, Rome
outside the Colosseum in Rome

Be advised that many tickets in Italy now have to be purchased online ahead of time, including the Colosseum.

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How To Stay Warm (and Chic!) In Europe This Winter

The key to traveling light and looking chic while staying warm this winter in Europe comes down to 2 things: fabrics and layers.

Instinctively we reach for thick, bulky clothes to keep us warm when the mercury drops. That worked in the old days, but now winter warmth comes with surprisingly thin layers of remarkable fabrics.

This means you can travel to really cold places with minimal luggage, and not be weighed down by heavy sweaters and coats.

what to pack for winter in Europe

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The Fabrics

The best fabrics to keep you warm are merino (the very best), silk, cashmere and the new “warmth technology synthetics. Each of these trap warmth against the skin.

Merino

When it comes to the best fabrics for travel, merino is the champion. Although it is a wool, merino is the very softest wool, and doesn’t itch or scratch. New technologies spin it to a thin thread that is also incredibly lofty. What this means is that air gets trapped against the skin, warms up and then keeps you warm. Merino is temperature regulating too, so as the day warms up it cools you down. From sub zero temperatures to 70 degrees, merino keeps you totally comfortable.

It is super sheer, wicks moisture away from the skin (so if you perspire it lifts it away) is antibacterial and super important for travel – it takes away odors. This means it can be worn multiple times between laundering and won’t get smelly. Perfect for travel!

Silk

Terramar Women’s Thermasilk base layer

Silk has the best warmth to weight ratio. Not only does it feel wonderful against your skin, but it keeps you really warm too. Unlike merino silk can’t regulate temperature, so if the afternoon warms up, you will too. It does however, wear well under jeans, so if it is cold enough to need a base layer on your legs you will have an easier time sliding jeans up over silk. See Terramar Thermasilk base layers here and here

Warmth Technology Synthetics

Synthetics are now pretty high tech. The warmth technology polyesters are super sheer, wick away moisture from the skin ad trap air, making you nice and toasty when it’s cold. Some of them regulate temperature, so can cool you back down too. My only problem with the polyesters is that they trap smells, so can be pretty stinky by the end of the day.

Cashmere

Cashmere is a fabulous middle layer fabric. You can get base layers in cashmere but if you are prone to itching it isn’t always your best friend.

Base Layers

A base layer’s job is to regulate temperature, not only keeping you warm but also wicking moisture away from the skin. This is your next-to-skin layer, think of it as a foundation garment over which you can layer your mid and outer layers as needed.

Think of camisoles like this one and very lightweight, long sleeved T’s like this one from Icebreaker in the new wonder fabrics. You can also get base layer bottoms like these silk ones from Terramar that are a similar thickness to a pair of tights.

Terramar Thermasilk base layer bottoms

A good base layer will be really sheer. Forget about the bulky long johns and cotton thermals of old – the new base layers are really thin.

Instead of a heavy sweater you can wear a thin base layer and stay every bit as warm.

The perfect winter travel wardrobe is made up of layers of these fabrics.

What To Pack For Winter

Underneath

Starting with your base layer, pack one or two long sleeved and one or two cami’s, ideally merino. I pack one silk cami and one merino cami as well as two merino long sleeves.

If you will need an extra layer for your legs look for a silk base layer that you can wash out at night or a couple of merino bottoms.

Merino Socks. Not only are thin, they keep your feet extra warm and don’t bunch up. They also don’t get stinky. See women’s merino socks here

Tights are essential if you will be wearing dresses or skirts.

Middle Layer

Leggings: If you will be wearing leggings look for a good merino pair like these from Icebreaker. They will keep you warm, cool you down if the afternoon gets warm and sunny, wick away perspiration, and also hold their shape nicely.

Jeans and Pants: The easiest way to travel is with separates. For every two bottoms pack 4 or 5 tops. So a pair of jeans, a pair of black pants (or leggings) and 5 tops to mix and match.

Long Sleeved Tops: From long sleeved T-shirts to cashmere sweaters like this one from Nordstrom, plan 2 to 3 tops per pair of jeans/pants/leggings.

A Merino Dress: The best winter travel piece I have ever owned is a black merino dress from Ibex. Unfortunately Ibex went out of business but you can find other merino dresses here and here.

Freezing day in Monserrat, Spain, December 2017

My merino dress is only slightly thicker than t-shirt fabric yet is incredibly warm. I wore it here in Barcelona 2 Decembers ago. On this day it was mildly cold in Barcelona, warm when you were in the sun, then up here in Monserrat it was absolutely freezing cold I the wind. Freezing.

A merino dress with tights and boots and a leather jacket will keep you warm when it’s glacial out, but also keep you comfortable when it is warmer.

The Outer Layer

Boots

The very best footwear for winter travelers is a good pair of boots. Boots need to be waterproof and able to hold up in snow. (Even if you are not expecting snow.)

I prefer boots that aren’t too rigid. Your boots need to flex with your feet, especially on long sightseeing days. I have been wearing shoes and boots from Sofft on all my travels over the last few years. They typically don’t need breaking in and have been extremely comfortable even on days I have had to walk more than 10 miles on cobblestoned surfaces.

A short pair of booties can be great for fall and winter travel. They don’t take up space in your suitcase, are easy to slip on and off at the airport, and look good with everything. I have the Bellis II from Sofft

If you are likely to have rain or if you want a higher boot, my current favorite winter boots are the Sharnell II from Sofft. They are waterproof, the width is adjustable if your legs swell of if you need a little extra calf room through wearing layers. Sofft’s Aqua Sofft line of boots are all waterproof.

A Puffer Jacket or Coat

A warm coat that packs down to nothing is essential for a winter traveler. Puffer coats are ideal as they both keep you warm and can fold down into a small pouch. Check to see that your puffer jacket or coat is waterproof before purchase.

I particularly like the slightly longer puffer coats. Puffer coats that reach mid-thigh will keep you much warmer on cold days. Look for a puffer coat that also has a hood, both for rain protection but also for the extra warmth they give your neck. This women’s puffer coat from Columbia is both warm and has excellent reviews. Also check out this one from Bernardo at Nordstrom if you want amore slimming line.

This one from Benia Valuker is the top selling women’s puffer coat on Amazon, with 2400 reviews – it must be good! Check out how gorgeous it is in beige!

My favorite clothing item in my closet is my red leather jacket from Jimmy’s in Florence. I only wear it when I know it’s not going to rain – I know leather is fine in the rain but I don’t want to risk ruining it in a downpour.

Hats

I normally wear some form of beanie or woolen hat for winter travel. One of my friends always looks so chic in fedora style hats, so this year I am getting one of these Lisianthus fedoras from Amazon. With more than 2000 5 star reviews I’m thinking it has to be a winner!

A Big Scarf

A warm scarf is a must for winter travel. I like to use a slightly oversized scarf or pashmina that can double as a blanket if needed on a flight. Look for something soft and gentle against the skin that is large enough to give you extra coverage over your chest and upper back when wrapped.

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