Italy has long been the North European's favourite South European country, and deservedly. It has a fascinating landscape with wonderful architecture and some of the world's best-designed gardens. The skill of planting design is much less-developed in Italy but immigrant gardeners, as many from North America as North Europe, have demonstrated the obvious: Italy's climate is wonderfully suited to garden-making. It tends to be dry in summer, but water is available. A greater problem is that hot weather is not conducive to gardening activity. It is best to work in the cool of the morning or the cool of the evening. The noontime heat can then be used for eating and sleeping in the shade. The suitability of Italy's climate to horticulture is proven by the wide range of fruits and vegetables on sale in its markets. Except for places with a vigorous import trade, like London, the variety is better in Italy than anywhere else in Europe.
In Italy, a deposit is often payable at an early stage in the buying process when you make a written offer. Be sure to clarify that the sum is to be set against the purchase price and will be returned if the purchase is not concluded.
Home to Florence, Siena, Lucca and San Gimignano, Tuscany is rich in history and culture. The dominant influence of this area is reflected by the fact the language we call Italian is basically the dialect of Tuscany. It has wonderful scenery, well-situated villas, some of Europe's finest gardens - and relatively high property prices.
The Ligurian coast stretches north from Tuscany to Genoa. It is a rocky and mountainous coast and a popular for wealthy Piedmontese to build grand holiday villas (eg at Portofino). Riviera di Ponente, to the west of Genoa, is renowned for its flowers.
Though it is not cheap, Rome retains the great attractions which has made it a world city. The urban area a more and relaxed air than most of Europe's capitals, though parts are dense. A house at the end of a commuter line (eg Frascati) is an attractive proposition - Romans have always retreated to the hills and coasts in summer.
Central Italy is a green region of high mountains, agricultural valleys and distinguished hill towns, like Assisi, Perugia and Orvieto. Second homes are cheaper than in Tuscany, reflecting its condition of slightly less charm and fewer tourists.
The east coast of Central Italy has a fertile, but narrow, coastal plain backed by high limestone mountains. The beaches are long and sandy. For second home owners, the attraction is often a farmstead in the hills within easy driving distance of a beach.
Italy Garden Fountain
Hadrian Villa, Italy