To live or spend one’s vacation in a castle or a manor house is a dream that can come true. That is, provided you have the time and money to invest not only in the purchase but especially in the maintenance, costly and often difficult, of that property.
It is a dream that attracts mostly foreign buyers, enticed to make acquisitions by the sharply declining prices in the last seven years of the crisis – a decline that has not yet stopped but has only slowed down – and in many cases by the favorable exchange rate. But for that type of structure, it is necessary to take into account the strong limits, when present, imposed on the restoration and the reconversion by the Fine Arts Department, which regulates the use of these buildings.
This niche market – there are fewer than 5,000 castles on Italian territory – has decidedly varied prices. And it is affected by trends. In general, the figures go from below €1,000,000, often for individual watch towers, up to various millions for historic structures, large and well kept.
Some examples of properties on the market? Romolini Immobiliare is selling the Antico Cassero in Tuscany, in the area of Arezzo. For €1.2 million one can become the owner of a castle dating from 1351. The property was extended and renovated over the centuries, and today is a prestigious home. A fortified castle of 2,000 square meters in Monferrato (Alessandria), completely frescoed inside, costs €2.9 million. The prices in general vary from €1,200 to €8,500 per square meter, says Lionard Luxury real estate, the agency that has 70 castles on sale in Italy in its portfolio.
The area most in demand is Tuscany, the cheapest is Piedmont. Of the properties for sale, there is the Sapia Castle (from the name of the Sienese noblewoman and protagonist of an episode of Dante’s Purgatory) near Monteriggioni (Siena) in need of a full renovation. Its price is €2.5 million.
“The clients are primarily foreigners, especially Russians, but in the last two years also Americans, enticed by the euro-dollar exchange rate and by the low prices,” says Dimitri Corti, the CEO of Lionard. In 90% of the cases, the castles are in need of renovation, with costs that go from €1,200-2,500 per square meter. For maintenance, with service personnel, one must think instead in terms of €100,000 on average per year.”
On the site www.luxuryestate.com, a partner of immobiliare.it, there is a castle on sale in Val di Pesa. Once a military watch tower, it had been transformed into a convent and was then purchased by Florentine nobility. It hosted well-known personalities in its 37 rooms, including, it is said, Leonardo da Vinci. Appealing stories for foreign buyers who love the history of Italy and its lifestyle.