Property for sale in Tuscany for under £250,000
When people think of Italy, Tuscany is the region most likely to spring to mind. A house in Tuscany in splendid isolation, bathed in glorious sunshine, surrounded by cypress trees and with green, rolling countryside as far as the eye can see, unbroken save for an olive grove here or a vineyard there. Idyllic, isn't it?
Throw in the timeless allure of art cities such as Florence, Pisa and Siena, the medieval charm of walled Lucca and the welcoming beaches of Viareggio and it's obvious why Tuscany is the region in Italy most visited by tourists, attracting some one in three.
Unsurprisingly, houses for sale in Tuscany are among the most expensive property in Italy. And despite a general decline in house prices elsewhere in Italy, homes and other property in Tuscany last year saw a rise of nearly seven per cent in values, proof of its enduring appeal.
Homes for sale in Tuscany number among the most beautiful in all Italy. A seven-bedroom mansion with a pool in Forte dei Marmi, a stone's throw from the glorious sea and overlooked by the snow-topped magnificence of the Apuan Alps?
A magnificent farmhouse in Chianti set in acres of stunning countryside? Beautiful? Certainly. Affordable? Certainly, if you don't expect much change from €1million. But here's the secret: you can find beautiful, affordable houses for sale in Tuscany for under €300,000 if you know where to look.
Take Lunigiana, the area nestled in the north of Tuscany and bordering Liguria. In picturesque towns and villages such as Filatteria, Pontremoli and Villafranca, one can buy a detached villa for under €200,000.
There is also the added attraction of being less than 30 minutes from the beautiful Cinque Terre stretch of coast, designated a UN World Heritage Site. And to prove this really is a region that has everything, the ski slopes of Zum Zeri are less than an hour away.
Another fertile hunting ground for affordable houses for sale in Tuscany is the southern area known as the Maremma. In towns such as Sorvana, famous for its wine tours, a three-bedroom semi can be yours for less than €200,000, while for a detached house of the same size, expect to pay €250,000-€300,000.
Other beautiful towns in this part of Tuscany you should also be looking at include the likes of Saturnia spa resort and Pitigliano, with its buildings famously hewn from the rockface. If you're looking at apartments, possibly for use as a base from which to explore Tuscany, prices can start from as little as €100,000.
This part of Tuscany is superb countryside for outdoor pursuits such as horse-riding, trekking and hiking. There is also ski-ing, less than an hour away at Monte Amiata.
But if you would rather take things easy, why not head for Mount Argentario, just over half an hour away and home to some of Tuscany's most alluring beaches?
Your options for cheap property in Tuscany are even greater if you're willing to consider a restoration project or fixer-upper. Again, Lunigiana's a great bet and in areas such as Zeri, a 110sq m rustico to restore with more than two acres of land can be yours for as little as €50,000.
Prices will rise the closer you get to the heart of Tuscany, in areas such as the outskirts of Lucca or Montecatini Terme. But in Montecatini Terme, for instance, one can buy a farm house to restore for just €250,000.
However, whatever your budget and requirements, the allure of Tuscany is obvious almost wherever you look. Many are drawn here by the prospect of living in authentic Italy, surrounded by Italians, as opposed to being holed up in some soulless apartment complex by the beach that could be anywhere from
Torremolinos to Timbuktu.
Europeans have long been lured by the appeal of buying a house in Tuscany. The English have been snapping up bits of Chianti so enthusiastically since the 1960s that it's been dubbed Chiantishire.
The Americans only cottoned on in large numbers in the mid-90s, following the publication of Frances Mayes' bestseller, Under The Tuscan Sun, the tale of how she bought Bramasole, a 200-year-old Tuscan farmhouse in Cortona.
The prospect of owning your own dream house in Tuscany, especially if you've snapped it up for a bargain? As the Americans might say: what's not to like?