Real estate in Italy is becoming more affordable for American buyers, as the euro continues to lose value against the dollar. In addition, prices in the northwest region of Tuscany have dropped considerably in recent years. This picturesque area of Italy features a number of restored village houses and villas in the $70,000-$125,000 price range. See the following article from International Living for more on this.
With the euro sinking against the dollar, Italy is getting cheaper. Last week, a restored 60,000 euro village house—and I know of a lovely one in Tuscany for that price—cost an equivalent $79,800. As I write, the euro is worth $1.27. You can now buy this property for $76,200.
But even without the sharp currency swing, the Lunigiana would still be a bargain. A crescent-shaped slice of northwest Tuscany, it isn’t on the tourist trail. Wedged between the marble glitter of the Apuan Alps and the Mediterranean, one of its sobriquets is “the Land of the Moon.” Another is “the Land of a Hundred Castles.”
Few places in its three river valleys aren’t within sight of a castle. Sometimes crumbling into picturesque abandon, stone towers and fortresses peep out of chestnut groves…crown rocky ridges…look down on the ochre roofs and archway streets of medieval towns and villages.
From raising silkworms to entertaining Dante of the Inferno fame, most Lunigiana castles have tales to tell. Tresana’s marquis was excommunicated for counterfeiting coins. Pontremoli’s fortress preserves neolithic carvings that once protected the meadows. Licciana Nardi’s castle opens its cellars to provide extra tavern space during a fall festival when many locals have fun by getting togged up in medieval costume.
Whether it’s to celebrate a saint’s day or an onion harvest, fairs and festivals abound here too. You can wander marked walking trails, go swimming in crystal rivers, and the coast is within an hour’s drive. Pisa, Lucca and Florence are all doable day trips.
Bread, vegetable and fish vans serve speck-on-the-map hamlets, but larger villages all have weekly street markets. Inside Medici walls, Fivvizano’s Tuesday market swirls around a fountain of marble dolphins.
From kitchen fittings to municipal facades, marble is everywhere. Michelangelo often came to the quarries above Carrara for his supplies. If you’re inspired to try some sculpture yourself, chunks of it just lie there for the taking in riverbeds. When Norman invaders came across the marble-adorned city of Luni, they destroyed it, believing they had found Rome.
Pilgrims came this way too, overnighting in abbeys and inns. Winding through the Lunigiana’s villages is the Via Francigena, a medieval pilgrim route from English Canterbury that went through France, northern Italy, and on to Rome.
Authentic? You bet. With coffee at less than a dollar and wood-oven pizzas the size of dinner-plates for $5.70, you don’t pay tourist prices here. Family-run roadside bars sometimes don’t even advertise they serve meals. Locals know it, and that’s good enough.
Lois, a real estate contact, introduced me to one such a place. This was a lunch-on-the-run viewing trip, so we limited ourselves to an antipasti course: little herb pies, sweet onions, a mighty dish of porcini mushrooms, salami, ham and crusty fresh bread.
I’ll tell you more about Lunigiana properties in an upcoming issue of IL magazine. Don’t miss it. If you’re seeking a restored village house, there’s a great selection for $70,000-$125,000.
This article has been republished from International Living.