Chappaqua Real Estate | For sale: Italy’s heritage

A castle. A palace. A fortress. An army barracks. These are just a few of the properties that are now up for sale across Italy.

Ever wanted to live in an 18th Century Venetian palace? Now you can: the iconic Diedo Palace, which once served as a criminal court, is just one of 18 properties the city is trying to sell.

For those more interested in fashion, Milan’s Palazzo Bolis Gualdo is also up for the chop. The city has even more history for sale than Venice, with 100 unique buildings on the market.

But these buildings come with a hefty price tag. The Diedo Palace will set buyers back €19 million, while Milan’s Palazzo is even more expensive with an asking price of €31 million.

Why is Italy selling off its heritage? It’s the latest step from the government, which is trying to find ways to reduce the country’s financial deficit. A total of 350 historical properties have been put onto the market by Agenzia del Demanio in an attempt to raise funds for the cash-strapped economy. The impressive roster includes everything from an army barracks in Bologna, which used to be occupied by the Italian Defence Ministry, to the Orsini Castle in Lazio, which was built by the pope in the 13th Century.

The move is hoped to generate €1.5 billion as the Eurozone crisis continues to hang over Italy’s head. It is not the first time Italy has sold off surplus real estate – hundreds of state-owned properties were sold in 2007, reports the Wall Street Journal. But those deals involved investors leasing the buildings back to local authorities. Now, the inventory sits empty, although the government will retain part ownership in some cases to maintain the properties.

The drastic decision arrives as Italy’s property market continues a downward spiral. The total volume of property sales plummeted by 92 per cent in the second quarter of 2012 compared with last year, according to Real Capital Analytics.

But Prime Minister Mario Monti remains positive. The economist-turned-politician, elected last year to introduce a wave of austerity measures, said that Italy’s economy has made progress since 2011.

“Are we really in crisis? A year ago, we thought we were less so, but perhaps we were more so,” Monti said at a conference in Rimini. “I see the moment approaching in which we’ll emerge.”

Indeed, Italy still remains popular among overseas investors. The country was the fifth most popular destination for buyers on in July, holding its position from the previous month.

The question is: can any of them afford to buy a palace?

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