July 19


Who Wants to Buy a Villa in Tuscany?

By Rick

July 19, 2016

Despite my best efforts to dissuade folks who want to buy a villa in Tuscany, I still get emails asking me if I know about any interesting properties for sale. At this point, some of these readers are even starting to convince me that it’s an idea worth reconsidering.

So I did a little research just for fun. And if you’re going to indulge the fantasy, why not go big?

Submitted for your daydreaming pleasure are two versions of Rural Italian Bliss. The fully restored country estate, olive groves for days, cats running amok, an overflowing wine cellar–all the rustic luxury you can handle, with the requisite swimming pool gazing upon the undulant vineyards. Every box is checked in both cases. The only thing missing from this picture is the romantic expat with a passionate sense of adventure. That would be YOU! (Or me.)

Whatever project you’re currently dealing with at home or at work, put it aside for a moment and let’s pander to our wildest dreams.

In case you’re wondering, yes they both are currently for sale, and I know the listing agent personally. Furthermore, for U.S. citizens, there’s an added bonus that I’ll talk about later. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet…

The Tuscan Dream, Version 1

Villa Number One is situated right in the heart of Tuscany. The Provincia di Pistoia, to be precise, close to Montecantini Terme, and less than 35 miles from everything. “Everything” in this case is Florence, Pisa, Lucca, and Viareggio (the beach).

This property has two independent apartments. One of them has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a dining room and a living room with a sofa bed. It can easily accommodate up to 8 guests.

The smaller unit offers two bedrooms, one bathroom, a fully equipped kitchen, a dining room and a living room with fireplace.

There is also the aforementioned piscine perfetta atop a panoramic hill overlooking medieval castles in the near distance. Lots of furnishings and amenities are included, such as Satellite HDTV, Wi-Fi internet, indoor/outdoor music system, wash machine, safe, private parking lot, ping pong table, mountain bikes, wood fire oven, barbecue and more. (But do you really need “more?” I certainly don’t.)

Perhaps you’re beginning to appreciate some of the possibilities. This property has a lot of versatility, so if two families wanted to combine their resources, each family could have their own separate apartment while sharing the common areas.

OR, someone could live in one unit and rent out the other one out for a nice income stream, either year round or seasonally. Better still, just be selfish and claim the whole thing.

The Tuscan Dream, Version 2

And actually, the second property is already a working B&B. So there is an income stream currently in place, but with plenty of room for an owner/operator to live peacefully in this secluded fantasy land.

Speaking of Fantasy Land, this villa is located just outside the small town of Collodi. Never heard of Collodi? Sure you have; it’s the home of Pinocchio, the most famous bugiardo in history. And this area of Tuscany is also very conveniently located to all the great cities mentioned above.

However, we’re not here to go site-seeing; we’re here to relax in our own sprawling villa. The structure used to be an olive oil mill (frantoio), dating back to the 1,600’s. Don’t worry, it has recently been “eco-renovated” using local natural materials such as terracotta tiles, Matraia stones, and chestnut wood beams to preserve the historic character of the old mill.

There are 6 bedrooms and 7 baths for guests, plus an independent “owner’s apartment,” which has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Presently, pool and deck areas are being constructed, and will be ready in a few months.

But wait, the fantasy gets better! This place has its own little sports bar, complete with soccer memorabilia. You can’t get any more italiano than that!

So Who Wants to Buy a Villa in Tuscany?

OK, I imagine you’re on board with the dream “in theory,” but you probably want to know a little about the realities.

Well, there’s the price. Alas, the Tuscan Dream doesn’t come cheap. For the first Villa, the asking price is $1,492,000 USD.  The second one (with the income stream already in place) is $1,649,000. But yes, like most everything in Italy, these too are negotiable.

*Notice that I quoted the prices in U.S. Dollars. That’s the “bonus” for any Americans who are entertaining the idea. I have a personal connection with a U.S. real estate agent working with the current owner who can execute the transaction in the United States using the Dollar instead of the Euro.

That means minimal dealings with the messy Italian bureaucracy, and just as importantly, making you more comfortable with the overall process. Plus, the Dollar has been quietly gaining on the Euro lately.

Visas and Other Annoying Documents

As far as visas and such, well, suffice to say that if you can afford one of these properties then you’ll have no trouble qualifying for the Elective Residency visa. That’s assuming that you’d even want to live there year-round. (Well, who wouldn’t? But practicalities and all…)

If you just want to enjoy the property for a few weeks every spring and fall, and then use it as an income stream the rest of the year, then no visas are required, just a valid passport.

You can (and should) still apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno, which would allow you, among other things, to opt-in to the state healthcare system.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If you’re truly interested in finding out more details and/or speaking with the real estate agent (an Italian currently living in the U.S.), then contact me by filling out the form below. I’ll pass along your information and you’ll be hearing from my friend very shorty.

And right after that, you’ll be hearing back from me in short order, inquiring as to the details for the upcoming Villa-warming party. I’ll bring the Prosecco! (Yes, I’m serious… I’m already inviting myself.)

[contact-form to=’[email protected]’ subject=’Villa in Tuscany’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

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About the author

Living in the Caput Mundi and trying to decipher Italian culture for the English speaking world.

  • Rick I am interested in why you try to tell people not to buy a villa in italy. I was thinking of trying to find something modest that I could have for a long time and go to 2 months out of the year and maybe retire to one day. being there, can you tell or point me to a post why your try to tell people not to buy in tuscany? this is the first I have heard f this. thanks!

    • Well, first, it’s not Tuscany specifically. It’s the challenges of dealing with the Italian red tape, as well as the fact that mortgages practically don’t exist, especially for foreigners. BUT if you have enough money to buy a villa with cash AND pay someone to handle all of the bureaucracy for you, then it might be worth considering. That’s why I liked these two properties that I had come across: the seller is willing to conduct the transaction in the US. However, if you’re the type of person who loves a DYI project and you’re in no particular hurry to ever finish it, then that could work, too. It’s just that most people have unrealistic ideas about what it takes to realize the dream to completion and never even consider the option of renting. When you rent you can (mostly) keep your fantasy intact without having it ruined by the inevitable avalanche of pitfalls that always accompany buying and restoring.

  • If your dream is to live in Italy, then you should go for it. Don’t let anyone squash your dreams. But be realistic with your expectations. Visiting Italy and living there will present two vastly different experiences. You may not be ready for the latter.

    While I’ve entertained the romantic vision of living year-round in Italy, as an American I just can’t see myself there more than 183 days each year (The tax residency test threshhold is met after residing in Italy for more than 183 calendar days in any year). The bureaucracy, paperwork and TAXES would ruin la dolce vita. For now I’ll stick with my 90-day tourist visa visits.

    BTW – Never underestimate the power of Italian bureaucracy. In a 2012 ruling the Italian Supreme Court held that a family living in Monaco qualified for Italian tax residency despite proving with childrens’ school attendance records, household utility bills, and local club membership dues that the family lived full-time in Monaco. You can’t fight Italian officialese!

    • You make some great points, Earl. I agree with you… the 90 visa lets you truly live the dream life because you never really have to deal with the distasteful side of the equation. Oh sure, there will still be enough bureaucracy to give you a glimpse at the unscalable mountain, but you can still opt-out of almost every inconvenience. But if you decide to live in the country year-round, sooner or later you’ll have to slay the beast. Good advice!

  • Tell me more about how owning property gives you an inside track to residency in Italy. I’m really very curious.

    • Well, to summarize what would be a VERY looooong explanation, the short answer is that if you can afford to buy property (without a mortgage), then it’s extremely likely that you’d qualify for an elective residency visa.

  • Rick I have heard that some people when not living in their dream villa, have returned to it and found people living in it – I.e squatters. Have you heard anything about this?

    • No, nothing specific. I mean, I suppose it happens in every country, certainly in the U.S. But that wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of my concerns. My biggest concern would be finding the money to buy the villa in the first place!

      • Actually, in some parts of the country squatters are a very real problem. Mostly because there are so many migrants coming in and not liking the govt bunk-style housing. The law actually protects the squatters – not the homeowner. Which is why rental property is a good option! While you’re away, someone manages it and keeps it full of renters- senza squatters

        • Yes, I’ve seen that, too, actually. As you say, the laws favor the person living in the place, whether they’re there legally or not. So yes, having someone look after your property is a great idea!!

  • They both sound great and cost less than I expected-but still not realistic for most of us. My tiny place in Puglia cost less than my car ( when it was new)!

    • Ha, ha! Yes, and I’ve seen women in Rome with handbags that cost more than my first car! Still, these properties are really interesting because of the dual potential of both residency and income. Must investigate further! Ciao, Cristina, thanks for stopping by today!

    • That’s what I’m saying! 1.5 million won’t get you nearly this much in many parts of the U.S. AND with the potential income stream.

  • Oh, if only…I would take option #1, I would not want to have to work and entertain guests! 🙂 Quite honestly all I need is a tiny apartment with a working shower and toilet and a bed and I would be set…if it meant living in Italy!

    • Yeah, well, it would be hard to maintain the “dream” if you had to do all of that while battling the Italian bureaucracy! And the final tab would certainly be more than 1.5 million!

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