Ciao Meakin,My wife and I had considered purchasing a home in Italy, and spent Jan, Feb & March in Lucca and are now heading to Minturno trying to decide exactly where we want to settle. However, our decision to purchase and renovate quickly went by the wayside, and we will now rent. We decided against buying for two main reasons. First, like you we are not wealthy and do not have unlimited funds to cover unforeseen costs/cost over-runs and secondly the resell market in Italy is extremely slow. It is not unusual for homes to sit on the market for years and our concern was that tying up a lot of money into a house in an area we may decide after time we do not like was foolish if not risky. Now, with that said, if you are entirely sure that the area you choose is the right one and you have the stomach for the unexpected costs and delays, then, by all means, go for it...and good luck.
Whatever you are quoted for the renovations you should add at least 35% if not more and the time to complete is no more accurate than the weather forecast so consider doubling the estimate and be thankful if it comes in under. You are undertaking a huge project and it is wise to have an Italian who you trust, representing you and it should not be the agent. There are plenty of stories about 'home in italy' dreams turning into nightmares. Here is one just published and thank goodness the one couple had the resources to keep the renovation going. Buona Fortuna!https://johnhendersontravel.com/2018/10/23/under-the-lazio-sun-finding-a-home-in-the-italian-countryside-isnt-easy-but-here-are-some-tips-how/