Rolling green hills, charming vineyards and Renaissance cities; Tuscany really does have it all! No wonder expats make up 7% of the population, while the number of international second-home buyers continues to rise.
Location and landscape
Situated in central Italy, to the north of Rome and including 230 kilometres of Mediterranean coast, this culturally rich region offers a wonderful choice of city, country and coastal living. Tuscany is picture-perfect, with idyllic hillside towns, quaint seaside villages overlooking turquoise waters, and with rugged landscapes to explore.
Slightly larger than Wales, Tuscany has some impressive mountain ranges, leading down through rolling hills to its beautiful coastline. This includes 16 Blue Flag beaches.
Rural highlights include the wine region of Chianti, between Florence and Siena, so popular with British buyers it’s been nicknamed ‘Chiantishire’. Don’t be put off though, it’s very, very Italian! It’s a vino-lovers dream, with plenty of opportunity for wine tasting and some sensational local dining options.
Notable buying spots
The regional capital, Florence, is renowned, of course, as the cradle of the Renaissance. Indeed, two villages you might like to look for a home include Vinci, birthplace of Leonardo and just 30 kilometres from Florence, or Caprese Michelangelo, close to Arezzo.
In Roman times, Lucca was a favourite hangout of Julius Caesar. Now it offers the best of the Tuscan lifestyle but at a more affordable price. Local attractions include the medieval Guinigi Tower, topped with ancient Holm oak trees, the old city walls and the Serchio river, which is great for rafting. Just an hour and a half from Florence, Lucca is not overly touristy and has some spectacular architecture to admire. Don’t miss the summer festival each year: past line-ups include Sting and Elton John.
Also in the province of Lucca is the extravagant seaside village of Forte dei Marmi. Here you can enjoy sophisticated villas, designer shopping and glamourous bars and restaurants.
Tuscany is a place where you can not only enjoy the finest foods, with 40 Michelin-starred restaurants, but you can walk it off too, in one of the three national parks that are in the region (keep an eye, and a nose, out for truffles!).
Tuscans enjoy a ‘passeggiata’ – or evening stroll – to socialise with friends, admire the sunset and of course, indulge in a delicious gelato. In most towns you’ll find plenty of free activities, such as plays and live music in those drop-dead gorgeous piazzas, to keep you entertained in the evenings while eating al fresco.
In the rural areas of Tuscany, especially the more remote hills, you’ll find that life is still surprisingly traditional, based around family and community. Yet there has been a move to the cities by younger people and it is here that you’ll find the most affordable homes and a warm welcome.
Tuscany caters for all budgets. You will find magnificent villas in the ‘golden-triangle’ of Florence, Siena and Volterra, or the esteemed coastal areas of Pietrasanta and Forte dei Marmi, where the sky is pretty much the limit on prices.
However, for a city apartment or a small farmhouse in the countryside you’ll need a starting budget of around €250,000.
Even with a smaller budget, you can find some great apartments for €100,000 and under – try Lunigiana for some super affordable properties – and if you head into the mountains for a fixer-upper, you can pay less than €50,000 (plus a fair bit for fixing it up, of course).
Tuscany has two international airports, at Florence and Pisa. Flight time is just over two hours from the UK. Driving time is around 14 hours from the Channel ports and traveling by train from London in one day is just about doable if you leave early.
Written by Overseas Guides Company.
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