7 Best Places to Buy a Vacation Home in Italy
Italy's rich culture, vibrant art scene, renowned culinary heritage, and jaw-dropping landscapes make it the ultimate vacation destination. Its varied regions — from the rolling hills of Tuscany to the dramatic seascapes of the Amalfi Coast — are a feast for the senses, each offering a distinct and memorable experience. Stroll along the ancient cobblestone streets of Rome or Florence, and you'll be immediately transported to a different era. Or, explore Milan's world-famous dining and shopping scene.
Whether you're a foodie, history buff, or design aficionado, Italy has plenty to offer, so it's not surprising that many people opt to invest in a second home here. In fact, the nation is now the top second home market for North Americans, according to Bloomberg. Not only is real estate in Italy more affordable than other popular European vacation destinations like Spain and France, but lower transaction costs, tax incentives, and government assistance also lure foreigners to invest in vacation homes in the country.
Below, we rounded up the most attractive regions in Italy for real estate investment.
Italy's second-largest lake stretches north of Milan and into Switzerland, offering visitors a scenic mix of mountain, lakefront, and island views.
"The lakes in the north of Italy, especially Lake Maggiore and its surroundings, make up one of the best locations for vacation homes in our country," said Eleonora Andriollo, a broker with Stresa Luxury Real Estate, Luxury Portfolio International. Most of our clients come from northern Europe, Switzerland, and Germany, and quite a lot from bigger Italian cities like Milan or Turin."
And while properties along the shore of neighboring Lake Como come with a price tag to match its popularity, second-home buyers in the Lake Maggiore area benefit from the same type of house features at much lower prices.
Milan has always been the beating heart of the Italian economy, but it also attracts visitors with its vibrant nightlife, phenomenal dining scene, and unrivaled cultural and artistic landscape. With three international airports, and a location within driving distance of several other major Italian cities, Milan is the ideal departure point for many European and international destinations.
"International customers arrive as expats, start to rent, and end up buying — loving the European spirit of the city, its ancient buildings mixed with new, modern condos, and the city's welcoming atmosphere," said Benedetta Viganò, a broker with Giorgio Viganò Real Estate, Luxury Portfolio International. She added that forecasts predict a 4.2% increase in home value by the end of the year, which means that the average price per square meter will reach 5,107 euros, making Milan one of the most expensive real estate markets in Italy.
With approximately 200 beaches washed by the blue waters of the Mediterranean, quaint villages offering a laid-back vibe, mountain landscapes, and a notoriously healthy lifestyle (it's home to one of only five Blue Zones, where people live the longest), Sardinia is a picture-perfect vacation destination. Porto Cervo in the north is an exclusive resort with designer boutiques and fine-dining establishments, while Sardinia's capital, Cagliari, is its historic heart with attractions dating back 5,000 years ago.
In Sardinia, the median price for a luxury home is 1.65 million euros (about $1.7 million). And the median price per square meter reaches 7,524 euros, according to a 2022 report by real estate company James Edition.
The Lake Como area has been attracting Europe's finest for centuries with its dramatic mountains, small villages, emerald waters, and historic lakefront mansions. European aristocrats, Hollywood celebrities, politicians, and well-heeled jet setters all flock here to take in the peaceful views in complete privacy.
The lake's lower western shore, including Cernobbio, Moltrasio, and Laglio, is the most expensive and popular area with buyers, followed by the Tremezzina region from Colonno to Cadenabbia, known for its stunning views of Bellagio and charming hamlets.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the demand for prime properties in the area, so it now exceeds supply," said Lone Heron, international sales manager at Property at Lake Como, Luxury Portfolio International. "The real estate market was already busy in 2019, and we experienced record sales in 2020 and 2021." She added that the most in-demand properties are historic estates with large gardens and original details such as frescoes and Venetian marble floors, as well as contemporary homes with high-tech amenities like entertainment areas and eco-friendly and energy-saving features.
"Embracing a sense of place, our villages are famous for having a lifestyle of tranquility and peace, full of history, art, and good food and wine," said Rosalba Sale, a broker with Tamagnini Luxury Estate, Luxury Portfolio International, noting that the proximity to several large Italian cities such as Siena, Perugia, Orvieto, Rome, and Florence, as well as the seaside, make Tuscany the most popular second home market in Italy.
Sale explained that the luxury real estate market in the area is thriving, with interest coming from buyers in both Europe and North America.
She added, "Three types of properties are particularly sought after: apartments with outdoor space in villages, country homes that are mostly restored — traditional style with a touch of modernity — and villas filled with lush gardens and olive groves."
Tuscany's capital needs no introduction. The birthplace of the Renaissance and arguably one of the most beautiful and culturally important cities in the world, Florence is steeped in history (its center is also a UNESCO World Heritage site).
It's the place that inspired Leonardo da Vinci, Brunelleschi, and Michelangelo, and is home to the breathtaking Duomo, romantic Ponte Vecchio, monumental Medici Chapels, and Piazzale Michelangelo. The city's elegant palaces, bustling squares, cobblestone streets lined with family-owned boutiques, and artisan workshops attract millions of tourists each year. Unsurprisingly, Florence is also one of the most popular real estate markets for second homes.
"We have seen a very high request for apartments — buyers who want to rent these units to tourists. But there's also demand for large properties, like villas or country houses with a lot of land," explained Chiara Parronchi, a broker with Studio 18, Luxury Portfolio International. With prices per square meter reaching 3,877 euros, Florence has some of Italy's most expensive real estate properties.
Venice's canals, bridges, and narrow streets transform the city into a romantic, fairy-tale destination frequented by millions of visitors. Together with its eclectic mix of architectural styles, it creates a unique cityscape unlike any other European destination. Plus, having a gondola as your primary mode of public transportation is pretty cool, too.
Venice's real estate market is one of the strongest in Italy, with prices per square meter falling between 4,000 and 5,800 euros, depending on the neighborhood. The San Marco district, home to most of Venice's major landmarks, is the priciest, followed by the university area of Dorsoduro, according to data from Idealista.