Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Life Is Sweet ; [Pounds Sterling]260,130: For a 10th Fractional Share of Castello Di Casole, near Siena in the Expensive Heart of Tuscany (Buy It Outright for [Pounds Sterling]5.8 Million). Turn the Page for Details Annual Balloon Festival at Chateau dOex, Vaud from [Pounds Sterling]145,000: Three-Bedroom Apartments at and Golfo Gabella Overlooking Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy. through Pure International (020 7331 4500)

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Life Is Sweet ; [Pounds Sterling]260,130: For a 10th Fractional Share of Castello Di Casole, near Siena in the Expensive Heart of Tuscany (Buy It Outright for [Pounds Sterling]5.8 Million). Turn the Page for Details Annual Balloon Festival at Chateau dOex, Vaud from [Pounds Sterling]145,000: Three-Bedroom Apartments at and Golfo Gabella Overlooking Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy. through Pure International (020 7331 4500)

Article excerpt

Byline: CATHY HAWKER

Cathy Hawker finds homes in Italy for British buyers who long for ladolce vita

An Italian affair

WETHER it is the romance of their language, the exuberance of their couture,the sharpness of their design sense or their excitable naturesor simply all that opera, history and cold-pressed olive oilthere is an awful lot to like about Italy and the Italians. From the delicateLigurian coastline in the north to the parched hills of Sicily, this is thecountry to have an affair withwhether it ends in tears, or (more likely) a life-long commitment.

People buy homes in Italy for the lifestyle, of course, and because of thechoice: with its wide variety of landscapes, heritage, regional cooking andwines. New grape varieties are helping to create a burgeoning local wineindustry, and while a Bellini cocktail in Harrys Bar in Venice may cost you adays pay, a grappa in Piedmont, or a glass of orvieto in Umbria certainly wont.

More than 30 million tourists visit Italy each year, pouring into Rome andFlorence for their cultural pilgrimage, then driving out into the countrysidewilling to be wooed by castellos, or carried away by farmhouses. Foreign buyerswill pay, on average, [pounds sterling]200,000 for a propertya price kept low by scary stories of buying mishaps often caused by Italysnotorious bureaucracy.

Buyersespecially of historic propertiesrequire industrial levels of patience. Things move slowly there, sometimesbackwards, but that can be part of its charm. Italy persuades us to slow downand relish life. It is just that, sometimes, Italians are rather too good atit.

The north: lakes, mountains and la dolce vita

The north of Italy is where the money is, thanks to the industrial powerhouseof Turin and the business and style centre of Milan, plus its good air links(Milan alone has three airports) and an affordable train system making traveleasy.

Liguria begins where the French Riviera ends and shares the same dazzlingMediterranean Sea. …

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