Published On: Sat, Jan 5th, 2019

Homes in Veneto

For superb urban holiday rental prospects or great-value rural property, you’d do well to consider buying in Veneto, says Fleur Kinson

Photos by Getty Images 

View of Cortina D'Ampezzo , Italy

View of Cortina D’Ampezzo

 

Extraordinary, irresistible Venice is one of the most visited cities in the world. More than 13 million people come to wander its watery streets every year. But for all Venice’s fame, the wide region surrounding it is not only comparatively unexplored, many people aren’t even sure how to pronounce it. (It’s ‘Ven-eh-to’, by the way, with the stress on the first syllable.) To be clear, it’s not that there aren’t other places in Veneto that visitors love – Verona, Vicenza, and the super-chic ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo – are also much adored. But mention Veneto’s wild open spaces, the rural beauty of the Euganean, Lessini or Berici Hills, or the foothills of the Dolomites, and most travellers scratch their heads.

These rural gems aren’t lesser-known because they’re difficult to get to. Veneto is an extremely prosperous and well-organised region with excellent transport connections and good roads. It’s just that visitors are generally a bit too busy being wowed by Venice and Veneto’s other bijou cities to find time to wander out into the beautiful hills and countryside outside the cities.

For property buyers, of course, this lack of popular awareness means some very attractive affordable country homes, and all within easy reach of exquisite little cities. Moreover, the popularity of those cities means great holiday rental prospects for anyone who wants to buy an urban apartment. Clearly, both types of buyer should get to know Veneto better.

Vicenza, Italy

Main city square in Vicenza

 

Consider the whole
Since the region as a whole might not be quite as immediately familiar as certain other parts of Italy, it’s worth summarising its overall flavour for you here. Visually, Veneto can be said to be dominated by a kind of elegant drama and dreamy enchantment. The architecture is highly decorated, with intricately-wrought shapes climbing out of the pink, bone-white or dove-grey stone buildings. The countryside is soft and pretty and there’s shimmery water snaking everywhere – except in the far north where the fantastical golden needles of the Dolomites pierce the sky. The region’s cities are small and jewel-like. Places like Padua, Vicenza, Verona and Treviso are packed with history and charm, but so are Veneto’s many small towns and hamlets.

Culturally, Veneto is a well-run and orderly place, with a clear awareness of the fine things in life and a flair for good living. This is one of the most populous regions in Italy, and its five million inhabitants are quite a creative and industrious bunch, but like Italians everywhere they enjoy a healthy work-life balance – making ample time for leisure with friends, savouring fine meals, and sitting at cafés watching the world go by.

Perhaps because of its particular history, Veneto tends to be cosmopolitan-minded and outward-looking. For all its elegant old world charm and strong sense of regional identity, Veneto still feels strangely like a bit of a global hub and never like a backwater. Long ago, Venice served as a kind of hinge between the East and the West, bringing various oriental exotica into Europe thanks to its location and special trading freedoms. Today, of course, Venice is still a major port, as well as a magnet for tourists from across the globe. So Veneto as a whole remains rather switched-on and savvy, which can come as a surprise given its dainty old architecture and small-sized settlements.

Verona, Italy

View of Verona

 

Reasons to buy
Being well-connected is one of Veneto’s many plus-points for foreign buyers. It’s generally pretty easy to get here, especially for travellers coming from northern European countries such as Britain, who have short journey times. There are several international airports in Veneto, and once you’re on the ground the rail connections are great and the road links efficient. For buyers of urban apartments in particular, the dream of frequent little breaks at your second home is pretty easy to fulfil.

Another good reason for buying a home in Veneto is its traditionally robust property market. This is a perennially appealing area that weathers well any storms in the world economy. Its property prices stay remarkably stable compared to those of holiday homes in many other sunshine destinations whenever trouble hits – as it did ten years ago with the international financial crisis. Even compared to other parts of Italy, a nation with a remarkably stable property market, Veneto shrugs off international economic difficulty with relative ease. Much of this comes down to the ferocious, unwavering appeal of Venice, of course, and that city’s market has a knock-on effect on the robustness of the whole region.

Meanwhile, as property values remain pretty strong even when the number of foreign buyers drops as it did during and after the international financial crisis, holiday rental prospects on homes in Veneto only ever keep climbing, because the visitors don’t stop coming. This region has never – and is unlikely ever to – wane in interest or appeal, because there’s too much beauty and history here, too many exquisite buildings and lovely landscapes, too much good food and fine weather.

Padua, Italy

Padua in the sunshine

Prices and places
Northern and prosperous, Veneto isn’t one of Italy’s cheapest regions for property. That said, you’ll find good value for money in the little cities – especially when you consider their visitor rental prospects and reliably strong resale values – and you’ll find excellent value for money in the rural locales, especially when you consider the appeal of such places and the easy access they afford to wonderful little cities.

Andrea Redivo Zaglia of the Veneto-specialist estate agency Properties in Italy advises that, “The main historic cities still have the highest property prices – Venice first, but also Verona, then Treviso and Padua. In such cities, a two-bedroom apartment might range from between €200,000 and €400,000, depending on its location and features. In the less well-known cities, property prices are considerably lower; apartments can be as cheap as €100,000. Likewise, prices are low in the countryside, with whole houses going for €150,000 to €200,000, or even less. A good investment opportunity would be to buy a home in a well-known area, having negotiated the price as low as possible, and then rent it to holidaymakers.”

As for other specific places in Veneto with property markets worthy of comment, you might bear in mind the following tips. Lovers of Venice should note that while central Venice is Veneto’s very priciest spot, you can save €100,000 or more by buying a home on one of this island-city’s nearby satellite islands, such as Burano or Torcello.

Lovers of rural hills, meanwhile, should definitely investigate the Berici Hills south of Vicenza, the vineyard-striped Lessini Hills northwest of Verona, and the wonderful domed Euganean Hills southwest of Padua – famous for their spas and restful atmosphere. These leafy hill ranges and their charming villages have appealed to quite a few British buyers over the past twenty years, and houses here are still very affordable. Recommended historic hamlets in the Euganean Hills include Montagnana, Cittadella and Este. Also recommended is Soave in the Lessini Hills and Asolo in the foothills of the Dolomites.

How the land lies
It’s worth remembering just how much geographical variety there is in this small corner of Italy, and considering what a range of landscapes you’ll have access to here. Going from north to south, Veneto begins with the high, vertical drama of the Dolomites, their jagged stone teeth rising sharply above slopes of fertile green pastureland. Moving south, the elevation keeps dropping until you meet the Veneto plain – pleasant farmland containing wide fields of maize and tidy orchards, suddenly enlivened by beautiful little cities and occasional outcrops of leafy, vine-striped hills.

Going from east to west across Veneto, the story is one of water to water. The eastern edge of the region hugs the warm Adriatic, with an intricate coastline that loops and splinters from golden beach to shallow lagoon to reedy river delta. The seaside shifts in feeling from mystic tranquillity to classic holiday gaiety. There are plenty of nice beach resorts to consider, and you should note that prices generally drop as you get further from Venice. Inland, Veneto has an abundance of rivers and sinuous waterways, variously coursing melted snow down from the Dolomites and onward into the mighty Po. As you reach the region’s western edge, sunlight glitters off the vastness of Lake Garda – Italy’s largest and most visited lake.

Torri Del Benaco on Lake Garda, Italy

Torri Del Benaco on Lake Garda

 

Serene and lovely
Very popular with sailors and wind-surfers, Lake Garda is also much loved by foreign homebuyers. Much of the lake’s eastern shore, which lies entirely in Veneto, is heavily touristed, but there are still serene and lovely settlements such as Malcesine and Torri del Benaco. The lakeside terrain grows steeper and more dramatic the further north you go. Property prices tend to be higher in the lake’s northern stretches than along its more southerly shores. Holiday rental prospects are very good everywhere.

Finally, a few words on Veneto’s delightful little cities, all of which are affluent places offering a high quality of life, as well as very good holiday rental prospects. Venice is obviously the undisputed queen of the region, commanding the highest property prices, best rental returns and all-round delirium for its art, architecture, history and ravishing cityscape. Verona, meanwhile, the setting for Romeo and Juliet, is a magnet for Shakespeare fans, romantics and opera lovers – though don’t forget that Shakespeare also wrote The Merchant of Venice and The Two Gentlemen of Verona, nor that The Taming of the Shrew is set in Padua.

Apartments in Verona are almost half the price of similar properties in Venice, and rentals prospects are very good for about seven months a year. Don’t overlook under-rated, artistic little Padua, which is within easy railway daytrip distance of Venice. Or handsome old Treviso with its network of canals. Or charming Vicenza with its wealth of Palladian architecture.

Remember to check out our Veneto regional property guide for a more in-depth look at each area.

 

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