We all know it – a large part of moving into a new home depends on the location of it. In our homelands, parents may choose a house near a good school, commuters may need to be close to a railway station or main road, whereas for some, being on a good bus route or near a Doctor’s surgery is important.
But what ticks your boxes when deciding on the location of your Italian home? Be it a full time move, or a vacation home, there are important factors that may seal the deal.
During our “Move to Italy Retreat” this year, we realised the importance of location. Many real estate agents’ websites focus on the type of property and all things internal, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms a house might contain, rather than what’s around it. Choose from options such as apartment, townhouse, farmhouse with land etc, all of which is important, but attention also needs to be given to the external surroundings.
If you’ve never visited Le Marche and found an area that appeals to you, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what you need in the location of a home, so we ask our attendees to give thought to what surrounds their ideal Italian home, as well as what’s inside it.
Below are our thoughts on the benefits of living in or owning a property in the variety of locations available in Le Marche.
HOUSE IN A MEDIEVAL VILLAGE
This is what we chose in our home, although it didn’t start out that way. We actually dreamed of the Tuscan-style farmhouse in a field. Terracotta roof, portico, olive trees, the soft sounds of birdsong or the distant hum of tractors waking us each morning.
But when we explored one of Le Marche’s hilltop borghi (villages) and spotted a large townhouse for sale in the centro storico (historic centre), we began to change our minds.
The advantages of living in a hilltop borgo means that most of what you need can be reached within walking distance. Our town has a bar, pizzeria, small supermarket, pharmacy, bank, bakery and butcher encased within its medieval walls.
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Friendly neighbours and local people in the borgo ensure that you will become part of the community quickly, exalting the feeling of la dolce vita and helping you improve your Italian language skills at the same time!
Beautifully decorated theatres, centuries-old churches, cobbled piazzas, museums and galleries are packed into the centro storico – all wrapped up in a honey-coloured stone-brick medieval wall that serves as a beautiful reminder that you actually live in Italy.
Add to the mix the stunning views that these elevated villages offer – rolling hills and a patchwork of fields that stretch to the coast in one direction, and mighty mountain ranges in the other, medieval hilltop villages present a classic Italian experience each time you step outside your front door.
Most borgo will also have a council office with a full-time mayor on staff, a doctor’s surgery, dentist and pharmacy.
ADVANTAGES TO OWNING A HOME IN AN ITALIAN VILLAGE
- Close-knit communities who you will get to know
- Amenities such as shops, bars, pizzeria a short walk away
- Surrounded by centuries of history to absorb – from the houses, churches, shops, museums and theatres to the old city walls
- If you need to be close to a beach, Le Marche’s coastline isn’t all about modern resorts – there are plenty of hilltop villages with elevated views that look out towards the Adriatic Sea near or on the coast
- If the countryside or mountains are more your thing, you will find an abundance of hilltop villages that tick these boxes as well
- Whether you go for montagne or mare, magnificent views from the elevated positions of these villages are guaranteed
- Very few houses in the centro storico have gardens, but they do exist so be sure to request a property with a garden when contacting agents if a garden is one of your must-haves
- Due to the importance of remaining sympathetic to the medieval aesthetics of the centro storico, there are stricter building regulations around renovations and restoration. If you want to add a balcony or roof terrace, ask your ingegnere to check the guidelines with the local comune (council office)
- It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to park right outside your house, but most villages have plenty of designated parking spaces. The stunning views and community feel are the pay off for us!
READ MORE: DO I REALLY NEED A PROPERTY SURVEY?
HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF A VILLAGE
A popular request during our Move to Italy Retreats is one where clients desire to be a part of a community and live near local amenities – but to also enjoy living in a quiet countryside location at the same time.
Living on the edge of a hilltop village can offer the best of both worlds – you can walk to the piazza and enjoy a morning cappuccino with neighbours, and then retreat to the quiet sanctuary of a country casa.
Some hilltop borghi sprawl out to a greater area which includes newer buildings that surround the centro storico, while farmland and fields dotted with country houses will usually border the roads that lead into the village. These stone-brick properties can be farmhouses, rustic ruins, or restored villas with pools, olive groves or plenty of land.
This location assures that you can live in a rural spot, but local amenities and village life in the centro storico are only a short drive or walk away.
ADVANTAGES IN LIVING ON THE EDGE OF A VILLAGE
- Local amenities can be a short walk away
- A rural location will ensure that you are surrounded by nature
- You can retreat to the quiet of a countryside location, away from traffic, people, and the hum of village life
- You can park right outside your house
- Any change to the exterior of the home will still have to be approved by the local comune, so have your ingegnere check out the rules at the council office (they can do this as part of a survey prior to buying)
- If a property is advertised as being in a rural location, see it up close and check it for yourself – you need to know exactly how rural it is and what’s around it. Electricity pylons or hunting dog kennels can sometimes be placed on farmland or in fields
- Is the home advertised as being near a village or a hamlet? Hamlet’s (‘frazione’, but sometimes ‘borgo’ will also be used) are much smaller than villages and sometimes only contain a cluster of houses with no local amenities within walking distance
HOUSE IN A TOWN OR CITY
With over 200 hilltop villages, Le Marche also has its share of larger cities and towns, some large and some much smaller. All of Le Marche’s towns and cities encompass an abundance of grand piazzas, theatres and museums, many of them older than Rome. Shops, restaurants and bars are plentiful, and as you’d expect, there’s more choice of what to eat and where.
As with the borghi, there are towns inland, on the coast and near the mountains, giving you a great choice of locations when choosing to live in or near one of Le Marche’s towns or cities.
There are numerous benefits to living in a larger town as appose to a village. You get to meet more people, both local neighbours and tourists, enjoy a wider range of theatre productions, festivals and concerts, while more local amenities are at hand. Whether you’re looking for a nearby gym, more choice of bars and restaurants, theatres, churches, specialist food shops, large supermarkets, shopping centres (centro commerciale), vets offices, clinics or hospitals, you will usually find all these and more in a town or city in Le Marche.
ADVANTAGES TO LIVING IN AN ITALIAN TOWN
- With a greater number of residents, you can become part of a large community
- More choice in where to eat, drink and shop
- If you enjoy certain home comforts, you are more likely to find them on sale in the shops in a larger town
- A wider choice of social activities to attend – theatre, concert, art exhibitions, museums etc
- Healthcare – wide choice of clinics, doctors and hospitals – both private and public
- Some hilltop towns even have elevators that bring you from the parking areas up to the piazza, saving you having to navigate steep cobbled streets with bags of shopping!
- Towns generally have a sprawl of modern buildings around the centro storico, so choose the location carefully. Do you want an authentic medieval home, or one from the 70s or 80s?
- There will be rules around changing the exterior of a period home, your ingegnere can tell you what will be permitted
- It goes without saying that there will be more traffic in a town or city as appose to a village
- If you choose a town or city that has a railway station, you are less likely to need a car than if you live in a village
Whether it’s a modern villa with a pool, a restored stone-brick farmhouse, or a large property with acres of land, there are huge advantages to living in Le Marche’s countryside.
Waking up to the sounds of birdsong, or the gentle hum of tractors in the distance can be blissful, and many countryside homes in Le Marche offer views of the mountains or the sea.
Wineries are in abundance, we guarantee that there will be several near your home, as well as walking trails, rivers, and fields that bloom with flowers during the summer.
Countryside homes offer a great place to host visiting friends and relatives and are usually larger than houses in towns and villages, offering more room for everyone!
ADVANTAGES TO LIVING IN THE ITALIAN COUNTRYSIDE
- Larger properties where more friends and family can stay
- Generally come with plenty of land, gardens and/or a swimming pool
- In a tranquil setting they can offer a very peaceful location
- You can usually take a short drive to a nearby town or village
- Look at neighbouring or nearby properties – are dogs kept outside? In the middle of the night, when one dog starts barking, it seems that every other dog within a five mile radius joins in!
- Before buying, see the house up close to ascertain how close the next property is
- Embrace the local wildlife – coming from a large English town I’m not used to the odd cinghiale (wild boar), porcupine or snake wandering down my driveway, but these events are part and parcel of living in a country home in Le Marche!
- Bus services are not Le Marche’s greatest asset, so you will more than likely need to drive to get around
- If a house ticks all your boxes but is surrounded by fields, check out the options of buying neighbouring land to ensure you will never have building works taking place nearby
- Ask your lawyer to give you the lowdown on hunting laws – hunters sometimes have the right to walk across land that isn’t their own in Italy
READ MORE: BUYING PROPERTY IN ITALY