Encouraging property news have been coming from Italy lately. According to recent reports by local estate agent groups, the Italian housing market is showing the first signs of recovery. Although sale volumes are still much smaller than in the past, buyers are coming back to the market and prices are barely inching down. Unless employment falls significantly, or the economic outlook takes a sudden turn for the worse, market stability may well be on the cards for 2011.

This makes the next few months a particularly interesting time to buy—unlike what is happening in Britain, for example, stock in Italy is still plentiful, and gently reducing prices are making Italian homes more affordable. And while the euro is extremely strong compared to the pound and, to an extent, the dollar, vendors in Italy are more willing to offer substantial discounts than they were in the past. All this makes an attractive package for buyers, especially because there is no obvious threat of a future price collapse that could erode the value of their investment.

That said, everyone’s pockets are shorter in these credit-crunched times. So, to help you make the most of the market on a limited budget, we have selected a couple of appealing Italian buys with very reasonable price tags.

Stone village house in Lunigiana, Tuscany, €150,000


An ancient borgo perches up on a hill in Lunigiana, that wooded, castle-studded stretch of Tuscan countryside that borders with Liguria. Here, in the old medieval heart of the village, a traditional stone house has come up for sale. Carefully restored, it captures the essence of rustic Tuscan style—think exposed stone walls, thick, chunky beams, and an open fire in the open-plan kitchen and living area.
The house has two bedrooms, a large terrace (perfect for alfresco dining) and two cellars, which are great for storage. The asking price is €150,000 and includes the charming country style furniture. For more information, contact selling agents Lunigiana2000 on +39 0187 421 400 or visit www.lunigiana2000.com.

Renovated trulli in Valle d’Itria, Puglia, €165,000


Dazzling white under the warm Mediterranean sun, a cluster of three conical trulli and two lamie stands against the silvery backdrop of olive trees in Puglia’s beautiful Valle d’Itria. Walls shelter one side like a fortress, while on the other, the house opens onto a verandah, the yard, and the Apulian countryside beyond. Inside, the interiors have been renovated with care to preserve the trulli's vernacular feel—there are stone floorings, exposed stone walls and an ancient fireplace.
The sitting room takes up a pretty alcove, and there are two bedrooms (one single and one double), two bathrooms, and a kitchen and dining room. The property comes with some 4,000 square metres of land peppered with almond and olive trees. The asking price is €165,000 through Real Estate Cisternino (+39 0804 443 280, www.realestatecisternino.com).