Surrounded by a close-knit community, natural beauty and unique cultural landmarks, living in a small town in Italy is the quintessence of the Dolce Vita. Property prices in Italy’s smaller towns are significantly cheaper than in the major cities, as is the general cost of living, which makes moving to a small town appealing for anyone on a fixed or lower income.
Of course, small towns have fewer amenities, lower levels of infrastructure and fewer restaurants, bars and shops than the cities. However, if you buy a property in a small town near one of Italy’s cities you can enjoy the best of both worlds, particularly if you have your own vehicle.
Nemi – Near Rome.
With a population of around 2,000 people, Nemi is situated just 30 km to the South East of Italy’s capital, Rome. Famous for its spectacular views of Lake Nemi, its strawberry production and for being the former site of the ancient Roman Temple of Diana Nemorensis, the town offers a fantastic quality of life for its residents.
The average property price in Nemi in 2023 is 1,727 Euros per square meter. This represents a 10% increase in the average property price from the previous year showing that demand in the area remains very strong. Meanwhile, you can rent out a furnished 2-bedroom apartment in Nemi for around 700 to 1000 Euros per month.
Nemi has some great local restaurants including Il Ramo d’Oro which overlooks the Nemi Lake and the Ristorante La Taverna which serves traditional regional cuisine. Nemi is also home to a number of 18th Century churches and the impressive Ruspoli Palace which dates back to the 10th Century and as a result, is popular with tourists so if you want to buy-to-let you should have a steady flow of tenants. Given the past performance of the market, property in Nemi is likely to be a good long-term investment for the future.
Volterra – Near Florence.
The beautiful hilltop town of Volterra is located 70 km to the Southwest of Florence and is best known for its stunning medieval architecture, ancient Etruscan history and lovely restaurants, markets and independent stores. With a population of 11,000, magnificent year-round weather and spectacular views across the Tuscan countryside, there are few small towns in Italy that offer better opportunities for prospective property buyers.
With average property prices of 1,807 Euros per square meter in 2023, a rise of 3.32% from the previous year, you can get great value for money on some truly unique properties in the town. Volterra is popular with tourists so there’s plenty of opportunity for short-term holiday lets and with a steadily rising property market a property in the town may make an astute long-term investment.
Some of the town’s main attractions include the 1st Century Roman Theater of Volterra, the Piazza dei Priori and the Guarnacci Museum where you can see some of the most interesting Etruscan artifacts in Italy. There’s also a whole plethora of delightful restaurants and cafes in Volterra to enjoy local cuisine at its finest. The Osteria La Pace Volterra serves authentic Tuscan cuisine while the gourmet Ristorante Enoteca Del Duca is situated in a 12th Century building with a lovely courtyard seating area and garden.
Cefalù – Near Palermo.
Cefalù, on the island of Sicily, is a small beach town with a population of 14,000 that is just 70 km to the East of Palermo. Situated on the shores of the Tyrrhenian coast, Cefalù is a major tourist destination but it also attracts foreign retirees and relocating Expats from the US and Europe.
The average property price in Cefalù in 2023 is 2,375 Euros per square meter, an increase of 1.9% since 2022. The demand for rental properties in the town remains high throughout the year but peaks during the summer months when you can leverage significantly inflated prices from holiday-making tenants. In the long term, properties in Cefalù should remain in high demand with future retirees, local Sicilians and Expats.
Cefalù’s medieval architecture combines Norman, Sicilian and North African influences and is epitomized by the Cathedral of Cefalù. This astounding UNESCO World Heritage Site of local importance represents Sicilian Romanesque architecture at its best. Another top attraction is the Museo Mandralisca where you can see expansive exhibitions of archeology and art that includes paintings, sculptures and ceramics. Cefalù also has a surprisingly large number of amenities for its size which makes it a very livable location.
Ravello – Near Naples.
This highly sought-after town on the Amalfi Coast is located 50 km Southeast of Naples and has a population of just 2,500 permanent inhabitants. Ravello is an iconic Italian destination that attracts Expats, local Italians and numerous tourists during the high season.
The average property price in Ravello was 5,962 Euros per square meter in 2023 which stayed steady from 2022, only increasing by 0.12%. This means that buying a property in Ravello may not be ideal to sell for a profit but as a result of the town’s massive appeal, it’s likely to be a safe long-term investment.
On the other hand, the rental potential for a property in Ravello is absolutely incredible, both for holiday lets and with longer-term local tenants. Of course, if you’re planning to live in the property then there are few towns in Italy that offer a better quality of life.
Ravello has long been a chic destination for musicians, writers and artists including Richard Wagner, Graham Greene, Virginia Woolf and Greta Garbo, to name but a few! Each summer the town hosts the Ravello festival to celebrate the works of Richard Wagner which is certainly one of the highlights of the annual calendar. The town also has a magnificent selection of restaurants, bars, boutiques, and stores which sell top-quality local cuisine, arts and crafts and other day-to-day essentials.
Bellagio – Near Milan.
Nestled on the picture-perfect banks of Lake Como, Bellagio is a charming town with a population of 4000 that is located 70 km North of Milan. Nicknamed the ‘Pearl of Lake Como’, Bellagio is a luxurious destination for tourists and a heavenly retreat for its residents. With easy access to Milan, spectacular scenery and a treasure trove of cultural attractions in the local area, Bellagio is one of the most prestigious small towns in Italy.
The average property price in Bellagio in 2023 is 2,968 Euros per square meter, a price that has increased by 4.62% since 2022. The relatively modest property prices make the town a great investment and if you want to rent the property during the summer there is massive demand for accommodation close to Lake Como.
Bellagio’s waterfront is lined with restaurants, cafes and boardwalks while the town and the surrounding areas are full of incredible churches, museums and attractions to explore. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are ample opportunities for hiking, cycling, rowing, fishing and yachting around Lake Como. The ideal cross between a luxury lake resort and a paradise of natural beauty, Bellagio is certainly one of Italy’s premier small towns in which to purchase a property.
San Stino Di Livenza – Near Venice.
San Stino di Livenza is a lovely town with a population of almost 13,000 people that is located 56 km to the West of Venice. The town is peaceful, charming and has a beautiful historic center. There are also several local tourist attractions including the nearby Roman archeological ruins, the Parrocchia Santa Maria della Presentazione and the Chiesa di San Marco Evangelista.
Property prices in San Stino di Livenza averaged just 942 Euros per square meter in 2023 which actually decreased by 12.62% compared to 2022. Considering the town’s close proximity to Venice, the property prices are extremely competitive despite the high quality of life and excellent local amenities.
As well as an enjoyable cultural scene, San Stino di Livenza is an excellent place for outdoor activities such as cycling and hiking in the alluring Veneto countryside. Ideal for young professionals and anyone who wants to live near Venice without spending a fortune, San Stino di Livenza is one of the region’s most underrated small towns.
Cherasco – Near Turin.
Cherasco is located 50 km to the Southeast of Turin and has a population of around 9,000 people. The small town has a wonderful range of attractions including the Palazzo Salmatoris, the Museo della Magia and the Santuario Madonna del Popolo as well as countless lovely restaurants, independent stores and cafes.
The average property price in Cherasco for 2023 is 1,368 Euros per square meter. The property prices in the town are very stable and have only increased by 0.15% since 2022. The town is a good place to raise a family and with a solid long-term rental market, it also makes a good choice for an investment property.
The surrounding countryside is primarily made up of rolling hills, forests and open plains, making it ideal for cycling, hiking and picnics in the summer. Overall, Cherasco is one of the nicest towns near Turin to buy a mid-range property to live in or rent out to long-term tenants.
Dozza – Near Bologna.
Dozza is a gorgeous town with a population of almost 7,000 that is located 40 km to the Southeast of Bologna. Famous for its bi-annual festival during which international and local artists paint permanent works onto the walls of the town’s houses, it’s also well known for the impressive Sforza Dozza Castle which contains a wine bar dedicated to the wine of the Emilia-Romagna region.
Property prices in Dozza are very competitive and averaged at 1,648 Euros per square meter in 2023, a decrease of 2.72% from 2022. The rental market in Dozza is fairly stable and there are good opportunities to leverage higher short-term prices during the summer months.
The grand streets of the historic center of Dozza are lined with arches and are home to a wide selection of restaurants, bars and shops. For spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, you can relax at the Hills Cocktail Bar or, if you’re feeling active, you can explore the surrounding wooded valleys along the hiking trails that crisscross the area.
Portofino – Near Genoa.
Portofino is an absolutely beautiful town on the Italian Riviera with a permanent population of just 400 people. Renowned for its fresh seafood, top-of-the-range boutiques, cobbled streets and pastel-colored houses along the ocean shore, Portofino has a highly attractive property market and a superb quality of life for its residents. Less than 40 km to the East of Genoa, Portofino has a thriving artistic tradition and provides its residents with a luxurious beachfront haven that’s just a short drive from the city.
The average property price in Portofino is 10,045 Euros per square meter in 2023, up just 0.09% from 2022. The property market in Portofino is incredibly stable and although the prices are fairly steep the rental opportunities, quality of living and desirability are hard to beat anywhere else in the country.
Portofino is the ultimate small town for couples and families who want to experience the essence of the Dolce Vita on the Italian Riviera. Not for people on a tight budget, Portofino offers prospective property buyers a truly life-changing opportunity to own a house in one of Italy’s most exclusive small towns.
Italy’s Small Towns Should Never Be Overlooked.
While it’s tempting to focus your property search in the major cities, Italy’s smaller, nearby towns also have a huge amount to offer any prospective buyer. Not only can you enjoy a slower pace of life and a friendlier community atmosphere but you can purchase properties at much lower prices than in the urban areas.
Public transport in Italy has improved significantly over the past few decades so it’s easy to reach the closest city using a local train or bus. Of course, if you have your own car then it’s no problem at all to travel between a small rural town and the nearest city.