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 Get The Best Gelato In Italy

If you are traveling to Italy anytime soon (or ever!) there are 3 things you can pretty much guarantee you will eat at least one time while you are away.

Pasta. Pizza. Gelato.

Some people are lucky enough to have a digestive system and a metabolism that lets them run wild with all three, others of us have to be selective as to how many times we can indulge while away. Whether you fall into the once only category or the multi times per day group, you have to make every time count.

Today we are talking gelato, Italy’s answer to but 1000 x better than, ice cream.

lemon gelato in Capri Italy
Lemon gelato in Capri. Not to be missed!

So what’s so hard about ordering ice cream you say? Well, there’s a little more to it than meets the eye.

It Starts With Where You Buy Gelato

This is in my opinion the most important factor when getting a gelato.

With tourism being so huge in Italy (it is one of the most visited countries in the world) gelato chains started popping up everywhere. Mass made, factory made ice cream with added color, added sugars, added God-only-knows-what. Chain store gelato doesn’t taste as good and can be so over sugared that it bites the back of your throat. As authentic as a Big Mac and with a provenance and nutritional value equally as questionable, these are not the places to buy gelato in Italy.

Their gelato either ships in frozen or is made from a packet. This is not the gelato you traveled across the world to eat!

Gelato franchises/chains are always scattered through the high tourist areas and are generally very close to major tourist attractions. If you have read my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) then you already know to avoid tourist trap eateries of any kind!

RELATED POST: HOW TO ORDER COFFEE IN ITALY

Always Buy Artiginale

Everywhere you go in Italy you can find fantastic, artisanal or artiginale gelato shops. These are owner operated stores where gelato is made freshly each day from fresh ingredients. The taste, texture and quality are superb. Think of it as chain store gelato being like eating Kentucky Fried Chicken versus artisanal gelato being like fine dining. Technically both will fill your belly but the experience is drastically different!

Buon Gusto artiginale gelato in Pienza Italy
Inside Buon Gusto gelateria in Pienza, Italy

Artisanal gelato flavors tend to be only what is in season. You won’t find strawberry year round.

Some artisanal shops only make a handful of flavors each day. In Pienza my friend Nicola’ from Buon Gusto makes only 6 flavors per day. When I take my Glam Italia Tour groups to Pienza I have learned to take them to his store when we first arrive, because we only spend a few hours in town and everyone always wants to go back for another gelato before we leave!

Explore the Flavor Profiles

Artiginale gelato shops offer some really fascinating flavor combinations. Don’t order the flavors you do at home – try something different! Look for things like raspberry and rosemary, peach and sage, figs and honey.

RELATED POST: HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN COFFEE IN A MOKA

They always offer samples so you can try before you buy. I find the more unusual the flavor combination (unusual to us, quite normal to them) the more amazing the gelato is. I always try anything with lavender, sage, basil or rosemary as they give such a fantastic flavor to gelato.

strawberry gelato italy
Gelato made with strawberries and basil.

On one of my tours one of the travelers tried orange,carrot and spinach gelato, the thought of which wasn’t overly enticing, but it was so incredibly good we all ended up going back and ordering one!

Gelato from Buon Gusto in Pienza
The one in back is the spinach and carrot gelato. As awful as it sounds it was actually sensational!

Mix It Up

Can’t decide which flavors to order? Try a scoop each of two or three!

Don’t be surprised if they refuse to pair the flavors you want or if they look at you funny. They get so invested in their creations and your taste experience is so important to them that sometimes they won’t want to put two flavors side by side.

gelateria Teatro, rome
white peach with sage and raspberry with rosemary gelato at Gelateria Teatro in Rome

One time in Sorrento a gelato guy refused to give me 2 flavors together. It was pretty funny! I couldn’t decide between the two so in the end he gave me 2 separate cups each with one flavor, then told me which one I was to eat first. He wasn’t being a jerk, it was because he didn’t want me thinking his gelato flavors were bad.

I go back every time I’m in Sorrento, which is multiple times per year, and now he just chooses two flavors that play nicely together for me. And I feel no guilt at having two scoops either, because the walk up the hill to the apartment I rent there is savage, so I’m convinced I burn it all off on the way home…

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How Can You Tell If It’s Artiginale?

Most artisanal or artiginale gelato shops will proudly post signs saying they are artiginale/artisanal. You can also just google artiginale gelato near me and get walking directions, invariably just around the corner from where you’re standing!

An easy way to tell if gelato is artisanal or not is to just look at it. Chain store/mass made/made from a packet gelatos tend to have punchy, bright colors, whereas artisanal gelato colors tend to be more dull.

artisanal pistachio gelato in Volterra, Italy
Real pistachio gelato will be a slightly dull shade of green

Gelato made with fresh strawberries will be a slightly dull pinkish hue, whereas mass market strawberry gelato will be bright pink. Another one to look for is pistachio, a flavor you will find year round. Artisanal pistachio gelato will be a dull, mossy or grey/green whereas mass market pistachio will be a vibrant green.

Have you read my books yet? Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) and Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things to Do in Rome: Beyond the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps are both available worldwide in paperback and on Kindle and the Kindle App. Both books are bestsellers and will change the way you experience travel in Italy!

Look For Locals

The best gelato shops are like the best little local eateries – heavily populated by Italians. Watch where they go, and buy your gelato there! Sometimes you will see long lines of people stretched out across the piazza waiting to buy gelato. At Dondoli Gelato in San Gimignano the lines get crazy long and sometimes stretch beyond the well in the middle of Piazza Cisterna, but the gelato is award winning and is definitely worth the wait. Funnily enough the café across from it also sells gelato and never has a line. Those in the know prefer to wait and have the good stuff.

This tends to be a really good sign, unless it is a bus tour and that’s where the tour guide told them to go. Bus tour groups are generally easy to spot though – if everyone in line looks like a tourist, this is not the place for you to be!

If you can’t spot a good gelato shop don’t worry – ask a local. There is always a good gelato shop close by.

Rail Europe (Americas)

Porticus of Octavia ~ Why You Need To See This Site In Rome

One of the things I love so much about Rome is that you can turn almost any corner and find yourself in the midst of some incredible set of ruins dating back to before Christ. Sometimes long, long before Christ.

Each of them seem to have a fascinating story behind them, and frequently you can trace that story across millennia to where we are now.

One of these sets of ruins dating back 2200+ years sits smack bang in the middle of Rome, mere minutes’ walk from the Forum, and although there will be literally thousands of people just up the street, you’d be lucky to find more than a dozen people wandering around and taking photos right here.

The Porticus of Octavia in Rome
The Porticus of Octavia in Rome dates back 2200 years

This is the Porticus of Octavia. It is immediately next door to the Teatro Marcello and leads you straight into the Jewish Ghetto, where you can stop for a glass of wine and some artichokes or maybe just a quick coffee on your way to somewhere else.

If you have my book Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things to Do in Rome: Beyond the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps you can find more information as well as a guide to what’s in walking distance from here in the Ancient Rome section.

A Very Ancient History

Back in 179 B.C a temple to the Goddess Juno was built on this site. Then in 146 B.C a temple to Jupiter Stator was built right next to it, and the two were enclosed in the Porticus Metelli.

Fast forward 120 years and Emperor Augustus decided it was time for some renovating and gave the complex a rebuild, naming it for his sister Octavia. This is the structure we see now.

The Teatro marcello in Rome dates back to before Christ
The Teatro Marcello in Rome may well have been the prototype for the Colosseum. It was built just down the road, 84 years prior.

Octavia was the mother of Marcellus, namesake of the theater next door.

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Murder In The Family

Just to make things even more interesting, Augustus’ wife Livia is thought to have killed Octavia’s son Marcellus to knock him out of the running to be Emperor. Basically everyone who potentially came between her own son Tiberius and the  job of emperor mysteriously died, including in the end Augustus himself.

I go into this in the book – the story is fascinating and Livia is one of the two villainesses in my history of Rome. Of course there were more than two, but I give you one from ancient Rome and one from Renaissance Rome.

The Temples And The Art

In its time this must have been an incredible sight to see. The Teatro Marcello and the Porticus of Octavia with the two temples would have all been gleaming in the sunshine, bright white travertine.

Porticus of Octavia Rome
In its day the Porticus of Octavia would have been all gleaming white travertine. Columns form the two temples dating back 2200 years still remain.

We know from Pliny the Elder’s book A Natural History, that both the porticoes of Octavia and Metelli as well as the two temples were full of art. Statues and frescoes were abundant, and the entire area would have been beautiful.

Octavia also built a library, curia and lecture halls in this complex.

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A History of Fires

There were two notable fires here, the first in 80 A.D and was repaired by Domitian. Then in 203 A.D there was another fire which had repairs done by Septimus Severus and his maniac son Caracalla. There is an inscription along the top that names both and also says Incendio Corruptum Rest, which means restored after a fire.

Inscription on the Porticus of Octavia tells of a rebuild by Septimus Severus and his son Caracalla after a fire
The inscription across the front of the Porticus tells of the rebuild after the fire.

In 442 A.D an earthquake felled the original columns along the front, which were then replaced by the arch you see now.

The Middle Ages

After the fall of Rome the beautiful Porticus of Octavia fell to ruin and became a fish market, remaining so until the late 19th century. In 770 A.D the church of Sant’ Angelo in Pescheria was built in the back of the ruins, Translated in means Church of The Holy Angel In The Fish Market

RELATED POST: 15 BOOKS SET IN ITALY TO READ BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

In my book Glam Italia! 101 fab I give you a breakdown of everything you are seeing and show you some incredibly cool details to look for, such as which stones are B.C and which correspond to the various centuries A.D.

You are also mere steps away from one of my favorite eateries in Rome, where I have spent endless evenings dining al fresco and tourist free. It’s all in the book – order your copy from Amazon today!

Want something else that’s really cool to do in Rome? I have a Free PDF of the Best Rooftop Bars In Rome. These are places with gorgeous views and wonderful drinks. Any of them are the perfect place to end a long day of sightseeing, taking in the sunset, the view and an icy cold Prosecco! Download your Best Rooftop Bars In Rome PDF HERE

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