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Homes in Tuscany

Adored for its stunning landscapes and historic cities stuffed with fine art, Tuscany is a dream-region for many would-be buyers in Italy. A wide range of prices plus favourable market conditions mean that dream can become reality, says Fleur Kinson.

If you asked a non-Italian to list as many of Italy’s twenty official regions as they could, however short their list was, it would almost certainly include Tuscany. This gilded swathe of central Italy is one of the nation’s biggest names. And it’s well-known for good reason. To begin with, there’s its colourful history and wealth of art. Who hasn’t heard of Florence or Pisa, or of legendary Tuscans such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci? And then there are the million modern images of Tuscan countryside that surround us in advertisements and product-labels.

Those rolling hills, arcing vineyards, bristling cypress trees and honeycoloured stone farmhouses form some of the quintessential conceptions of Italy – even for people who’ve never been to the country. So Tuscany is a region that needs no introduction. But we should perhaps point out that the region’s assets include more than just legendary art-cities and lyrical hilly countryside. There are also fabulous stretches of coast here in Tuscany, where pale sands slope into turquoise shallows, and there’s a generous scattering of jewel-like offshore islands. There are leafy mountains strewn with old castles, and huge areas of wilderness-like national parkland harbouring impressive wildlife. If you were to try to find downsides to Tuscany, you might point to one or two bland and undistinguished towns, and to some intense summer crowding in tourist centres – but you get that kind of thing everywhere in the world now. Overall, Tuscany is a spectacular place. Its food, wine and olive oil are rightly exalted, and the region’s climate is sublime. No wonder so many people from so many different countries have dreamed of owning a home here.

MARKET AND PRICES

As well as containing one of the most popular cities for foreign buyers in Italy (Florence), Tuscany is also home to some of the nation’s best-loved countryside (in particular, the exquisitely beautiful Chianti Hills area north of Siena, once so full of English homeowners it was dubbed ‘Chiantishire’). In such places, decades of popularity did lead to the kind of high prices you might expect, but the long tail of the 2008 financial crisis has kept prices pretty static over the past several years, with the result that these gorgeous locales are currently much more affordable than they were a decade ago. Furthermore, other locations in Tuscany which never became expensive in the first place still offer very good value for money.

Alessandro Trenti of the estate agency Fine Tuscany says that “The idea that Tuscany is only for the wealthiest is very wrong. There are properties here for all budgets and tastes. Tuscany’s territory is so diverse and spectacular that you will feel like you’re visiting a different country every day. All this comes at a price, but that price can be much lower than you might expect!”

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About Italia!

This month’s Italian journey begins in the crystal blue waters of the Maddalena Archipelago, just off the northeastern tip of Sardinia. Check out the quieter coves of the Costa Smeralda (no bling required) and travel inland to explore an ancient landscape, with copious helpings of delicious Sardinian food to sustain you along the way. Beth, our newest writer, revisits her beloved Rome, this time with a baby and grandparents in tow. Perugina, the producers of theiconic Baci, are under the spotlight as we trace the history of this venerable chocolate company, and we meet up with Giorgio Locatelli in our exclusive interview.