Stars with homes in Italy

June 5th, 2008 | by Ainsley |

Buying a property in Italy has long been the dream of millions of people the world over. The attraction of looking for homes for sale in Italy, be it land, holiday villas, apartments, farm houses or investment property for sale in Italy?

Well, of course there’s the timeless appeal of cities such as Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan and Pisa to name a few, almost every brick and cobblestone a testament to culture and tradition steeped in centuries of history.

On a practical level, there’s the allure of Italy’s beautiful Mediterranean climate and a very affordable cost of everyday living, especially when it comes to finding homes and property for sale in Italy. Little surprise, therefore, that there is a growing list of international stars who have snapped up homes for sale in Italy, although cost was probably the least of their worries.

George Clooney was so struck by the beauty of Laglio, on the shores of Lake Como, that he now owns two palatial homes there, Villa Margherita and Villa Oleandra next door. The Hollywood heart-throb explained the attraction: “I think of Laglio as the most beautiful town in the world. The people, my neighbours, are the kindest and warmest.”

Mind you, they weren’t too warmly disposed towards him a few years ago when, during breaks in filming of Ocean’s Twelve in Amsterdam, he had co-stars Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Julia Roberts pop over – and the world’s paparazzi in hot pursuit.

One wonders as well how pleased they are about the “Clooney Effect”: since the star spent €8million on Villa Oleandra in 2002, local property prices have shot up. Not that the sky-high prices would bother two of his near-neighbours on Lake Como, airline bosses Sir Richard Branson (Virgin) and Michael O’Leary (Ryanair).

Dame Helen Mirren, who won an Oscar for The Queen, fittingly snapped up a 500-year-old castle near Tiggiano, Apulia. The rundown £680,000 property will take around a year’s worth of renovation to make it habitable. On the plus side, it does boast a sea view and a mature vineyard.

Pop star Sting and wife Trudie Styler own the 16th century villa Il Palagio near Figline Valdarno, Tuscany, south of Florence. The property, nestled in hills in the Chianti region, also offers organic farm produce and serves as a yoga retreat.

Trudie said: “Here we have lived and loved for many glorious summers, escaping to this paradise with our kids and our friends…with what we hope is typical Italian hospitality, we throw open our doors to you.” Let’s face it, it’s not every day a pop star and his wife invite you into their home. The couple also own a luxury villa on Lake Como.

If you’re wondering what happened to 80s Simple Minds pop star Jim Kerr (once married to Chrissie Hynde and Patsy Kensit), he lives in Taormina, on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, where he runs a hotel, the Villa Angela. Kerr admits that after visiting in the mid-90s, he fell “hopelessly in love with this most romantic destination, the warmth of the Sicilian people and their passion for life”.

And keeping up the Simple pop theme, ex-Simply Red main man Mick Hucknall also has a Taormina home and owns a nearby winery called Il Cantante (The Singer). Meanwhile, Madness lead singer Suggs owns a converted 500-year-old masseria around a mile from the coast of Lecce, Puglia.

Writer Frances Mayes is credited with almost single-handedly igniting Americans’ passion for property for sale in Italy with her mid-90s book, Under The Tuscan Sun, about buying and renovating a 200-year-old farm house. The farm house, in Cortona, is now her home.

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