Friday 23 March 2012

Italian property and real estate types

If you’re after Italy property and real estate for sale, then get used to a whole new language. You’ll know what a villa is, and you can work out appartamento, but what about the bilocale, casetta or terratetto? A complete glossary of types of Italian property and real estate.
Italy real estate

If you’re British you’ll be used to buying property in certain sizes — detached, semi-detached, terraced or a flat. American readers will be used to purchasing their real estate in the shape of apartments, condos, villas or duplexes. But you’re buying Italy real estate so you’d best acquaint yourself with a whole new vocabulary — we wouldn’t want you purchasing a stable when you meant to purchase a mansion.

An appartamento is an apartment of course, or a flat to UK readers, while a bilocale is an apartment with two rooms. Maybe you want to buy a regular house in Italy? Casa is the generic term for a house or home, with a casetta a small house, not to be confused with either a casale (a farmhouse or small hamlet) or a castello (castle). Sub-genres of the casa include the casa bifamiliare (known to Brits as a semi or as a duplex to Americans, and the casa canonica (a vicarage or minister's house — unsurprisingly often found next to the local church). Terratetto, meanwhile, means the owner owns the entire buildings, from 'roof to ground' and it may be a semi-detached, detached or terraced house.

A farmhouse in Italy

Don’t confuse the casa canonica with a casa colonica. This latter is a farmhouse, while a casa padronale is the main house on an estate, the old squire’s house. Those new to buying Italian property shouldn’t be misled by the phrase ‘palazzo’ as this can be applied to almost any large apartment building or block of flats, as well as it meaning a large town house or mansion.

Italian real estate agents are as enthusiastic as any at talking up their property for sale. That doesn’t mean you won’t want to buy an attico (attic), a mansarda (loft conversion) or a monolocale (a studio flat … or bedsit as we used to call them); just be aware that you’re not purchasing a villetta a schiera (terraced house). While you’re negotiating on your property for sale in Italy, by the way, find out if a box is included … that’s a prefabricated garage. You may also have a torre (tower) attached to your dwelling.
Property for sale in Italian countryside

And as you’ll very likely be looking at buying real estate in the Italian countryside, there’s a whole new glossary to grasp. A farmhouse may also be referred to as a cascina, while a house in the country will be dubbed a casolare. The farm may be a fattoria (working farm) or increasingly an agriturismo (a working farm offering accommodation).

Depending on the condition of Italian property for sale it may be listed as a rustico (rural property, usually in need of modernisation) or a rudere (an abandoned ruin). Farms vary in size of course, from the masseria (a huge estate, usually in southern Italy) to a podere (a smallholding that may keep you in meat, fruit and vegetables). Other regional variations include the maso (a farm in the far northern and sparsely populated Alto-Adige region) down to the trulli … the startling cone-topped stone dwellings in Puglia in the south. Trulli for sale are becoming increasingly sought after.

Farm for sale in Italy

If you’re buying an Italian farm, by the way, you may well find yourself the proud owner of a stalla (stable), a fienile (hay barn), capanna (barn) or a dependence (outhouse). An annesso meanwhile is the annex. All, of course, may be ripe for conversion to accommodation, though a porciliaia or porcile likely not … that’s the pigsty.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

The Enoteca Wine Club in Umbria

A great range of wines combined with a friendly atmosphere. Patrick and his wife are always welcoming and make their customers feel at home straight away. A hidden gem away from the hustle and bustle of the touristic areas. The Enoteca Wine Club is located in the little town of Umbertide in Umbria. "Patrick Piccioni is the sommelier and host. Antonella rules the tiny kitchen, and sometimes their son will help out serving dinners. Absolutely a family affair." (Judith Klinger).

Monday 19 March 2012

Italy’s Austerity Measures mean tax increases for property owners

Wealth Tax on Real Estate Property Located in Italy:

Rules on wealth tax due by owners of real estate properties located in Italy have been significantly changed. The new tax is called “IMU” (the Italian acronym for “Unified Municipal Tax”) and will replace the old “ICI” tax (the Italian acronym for the “Municipal tax on real estate”) starting from January 2012. The basic rate for IMU has been set at 0.76 percent per year on the value of the real estate. The taxable value for IMU is calculated based on the cadastrial values – i.e., standard values – attributed to each property in the official register. Furthermore, wealth tax is now due also on the individual’s main abode. This tax had been abolished by the former Berlusconi government, but has now been reintroduced. For real estate owned as one’s main abode, local municipalities can reduce the wealth tax rate to 0.4 percent, and allow a flat deduction up to EUR 200.

Wealth Tax on Real Estate Property Located Abroad:

Starting from 2011, for any real estate properties held abroad by Italian fiscal residents, the government is introducing a new wealth tax of 0.76 percent per year on the value of the property. Taxable value is equal to the purchase cost, as noted in the purchase contract, or, in the absence of this, is equal to the fair market value of the property. Taxpayers will be able to claim a tax credit equal to the amount of wealth tax already paid in the country where the property is located.

Monday 12 March 2012

La Festa della Donna in Italy

The 8th of March is International Women’s Day, a festival which will be celebrated around the world. Here in Italy this very popular festival is called  La Festa della Donna. In 1946 the Unione Donna Italiana (Italian Woman Union), whilst preparing for the celebrations of the 8th of March, decided to choose an object to symbolise the event. The choice fell on the bright yellow flowers of the Mimosa, which is in blossom at the beginning of March, and since then this plant has become the symbol of La Festa della Donna. The success of the Mimosa as an emblem of Women’s Day is due not only to the fact that it blossoms at this time of year, but also to its bright yellow color, a symbol of vitality and joy which represents the passage from death to life. In addition to this, despite its fragile look the Mimosa is, appropriately, very resilient! It has become a tradition that men will buy small sprigs of Mimosa which they will then offer to women, and part of the proceedings from the sale go to support projects related to women’s causes, such as shelters for women subject to violence, breast cancer research, or co-operatives run by women in Third World Countries. The Mimosa belongs to the Acacia family and the most popular variety grown here in Italy is the Acacia Dealbatawhich, given the right conditions, grows to a height of around 20-30 feet. Originally from Tasmania, this beautiful tree has yellow flowers which are very small and bunched together in bright fluffy pompons.  The majority of Mimosa trees are cultivated in Liguria on the terraces facing the sea. Here the climate is ideal for these plants which, in order to grow well, should never be subjected to temperatures below zero and must be sheltered from the wind. The Coldiretti (Farmers' Union) claim that the Mimosa industry is beneficial to the environment for two reasons: firstly the trees are cultivated according to eco-sustainable principles, and secondly they are grown on agricultural land that would otherwise be abandoned and subject to erosion. To keep your Festa della Donna Mimosa flowers fresh for longer you should cut off the lower leaves with a sharp knife and put them in vase with tepid, not cold, water to which you have added a couple of drops of lemon juice. It’s important to keep the flowers in full light but well away from any heating source as the Mimosa doesn’t like a dry environment. Finally, I’d like to share with you a few words that I’ve just read on an Italian website dedicated to Festa della Donna,which were written by someone called Giuseppe: Senza le donne finirebbe il mondo: mancherebbe la dolcezza, mancherebbe l’amore di una mamma, mancherebbe il sorriso di una fanciulla, mancherebbe la voglia di vivere… Grazie Donna! Auguri Donna! (Without women the world would end: there wouldn’t be sweetness, there wouldn’t be the love of a mother, there wouldn’t be the smile of a girl, there wouldn’t be the desire to live… Thank you Woman! Best wishes!)

Thursday 1 March 2012

Monte Castello di Vibio: The smallest theatre in the world

Monte Castello di Vibio clearly retains the look of a medieval castrum. It stands on a hill, which offers a unique view of the hills of Umbria and the Tiber valley. From afar, despite some newly-built houses and farmhouses, the village, topped by the colour of the antique red roof tiles of its beautiful stone dwellings, is surrounded by green countryside. Flashes of light, shadows, and that of twilight strike the visitor while walking along its narrow streets, going around the fourteenth century Tower of Porta di Maggio, the medieval well-cistern, the portal of its former sixteenth century monastery; and all the other details that capture the visitors attention. Inside the Church of Santa Illuminata, once a seventeenth century oratory, now with nineteenth century modifications, is a miraculous crucifix, already described in a Gothic manuscript, that is venerated . Talking about miracles, we would like to mention the nineteenth-century parish church dedicated to San Filippo and Giacomo, which preserves the statue of the Madonna dei Portenti, so called for its miraculous properties that were recognized by the inhabitants. The square of the church, dedicated to Vittorio Emanuele II, is like a balcony over Umbria. A region that almost seems designed and of which, at certain moments, you can hear the voice, a motherly voice, that alternates with the silence of land. Thanks to the presence of many ancient towers and Guelph merlons you can understand that the village was a papal fiefdom. The citizens of Monte Castello succeeded in building a theatre at the beginning of the nineteenth century, which in 2008 celebrated its bicentenary. Teatro della Concordia was designed during the French post revolutionary period and reflects the soul of the village in miniature. It is an intimate place, a masterpiece frescoed in 1892 by the young painter Luigi Agretti (1877-1937), who was spending a holiday in Monte Castello; he was the son of Caesar from Perugia, already the author of the decorations of the drop-curtain and the backdrop of theatre. In addition to the vaulted ceiling and the foyer of the theatre, Luigi Agretti also painted the apse the Church of the Santa Illuminata. You can not leave Monte Castello without a visit to the beautiful hamlet of Doglio, placed even further up the wooded hill on the road to Todi. Doglio was a castle of the Ghibelline of Todi that that overlooked the Guelphs of Orvieto. There is a stone coat-of-arms with the eagle of Todi on the fourteenth-century Porta Fuje, from which you can enter the old village. You can also admire the wonders of a place that has remained intact over the centuries.