The Veneto is more than just Venice. Boasting a host of marvellous (and very ancient) cities, there is some superb property for sale in Treviso, Padua, Verona and more … towns which make Venice look a positive newcomer. There’s fine country real estate too and Veneto has excellent air and road links.
The first thing to realise when we talk about the Veneto region is that it isn’t just about Venice. This north-eastern region of Italy has a number of major towns, many of them very ancient, many with a beauty and cultural life to give The Serene Republic a run for its money.
There is Verona with its rose-washed mediaeval buildings and Roman remains. Quietly unspoiled Treviso, set within 16th century walls has much to offer the seeker after Italian real estate. And Padua is one of the most ancient cities in northern Italy — its big student population makes it a city with buzz and plenty to do. Last, there is Venice itself. Possibly the world’s most romantic city, it is certainly the most remarkable. Venice can also be one of the most expensive places to buy property … but not necessarily.
Its particular history has left a real stamp on the type and style of property for sale around Veneto. Venice itself is a relative newcomer. The much older cities of Verona, Padua and Vicenza were Roman settlements (Livy and Vetruvius were natives of the region), and it wasn’t until the barbarian invasions of the fifth and sixth centuries that the axis of the region changed.
First Attila the Hun and then the Lombards (founders of Lombardy to the west) carved their way through the region. This forced the people to flee to the inhospitable islands in the lagoon north of the old Greek seaport of Adria (which gave its name to the Adriatic). Venice grew up around what is now the Rialto, electing the first doge in 729AD. These enterprising people built around the canals of the crowded lagoon and began to build an empire. By the early Middle Ages Venice was a great seapower (the home city of Marco Polo) and overtook Pisa and Genoa (its greatest rival). On land, it had annexed Padua, Treviso, Vicenza, Friuli, Brescia, Bergamo and Ravenna — all the major cities of the region.
If you've already planned a visit to this area, perhaps to inspect some properties, you're bound to be spending a night or two in some local hotels; the following links will assist you in quickly finding and booking online your hotel in the Veneto region of Italy:
And that imperial past dictates much of the real estate for sale in Veneto. There are some 5000 of the typical ville venete (or Venetian villas) built between the 15th and 19th centuries. The Palladian style, in beautiful pink stone, was exported by Venice to its satellites, along with its economy and administrators. And so while you may baulk at paying some €6000 a square metre for real estate in Venice itself, you’ll find it well worth looking in Padua or Verona for property — both have huge charm and fewer tourists than Venice. Head to Vicenza or Treviso (which has its own airport) and you’ll find the price drops dramatically to around €2000 a square metre.
Of course if you do have the money to spend there are properties for sale in plum sites such as on the Grand Canal and the Rialto. Prices may not even shock emigrating Londoners too much. €270,000 for a three-bedroom flat on the top floor of a 16th century building in Castello; a fourth floor, 100 square metre apartment near the Rialto Bridge for €425,000. Those with smaller budgets are looking at up and coming areas such as Giudecca, where old industrial buildings are being converted into apartments — one-bedroom apartments in the Judecca Nova developments were on sale recently from €160,000, and three-bedroom duplexes for €435,000.
Venice has a problem of course. It’s not only sinking but shrinking … the population that is. In the 1950s it had 175,000 inhabitants, but is now down to 65,000 and dropping by the year. Venetians, unwilling to see their city die, welcome foreigners buying property — as long as they elect to be permanent residents: holiday homes, empty much of the year, are the bain of a depopulating city. But the upside is that not only is there much property for sale in Venice, you are unlikely to encounter stiff competition for it. The myth that all Venice real estate is prohibitively expensive also frightens a lot of potential buyers off.
The great thing about such a mature and busy part of Italy is that the communications are first rate. Anyone looking to buy Italy real estate but wishing to travel back and forth to the UK or US will welcome a handy scattering of international airports, including Venice Marco Polo, Brescia, Forli and Treviso. The road network is first-rate too, offering direct connections to Switzerland, France, the Balkans, Austria and Germany and down to central Italy.
It’s possible to eat worse and more expensively in Venice itself than anywhere else in Italy — such is the problem of a town with more than its share of tourists (an unbelievable 100 for every Venetian pass through the city each year). But if you buy a home in Veneto, you’ll be relieved to discover it has very good food (so does Venice if you wander even slightly off the main tourist trails) and some superb wines. There is pasta of course, homemade often, with bigoli noodles a speciality of Vicenza.
Anyone buying real estate here in Veneto will be eating a lot more rice than pasta though. The risotto here rivals that of Lombardy for its quality, often teamed with the seafood so popular in the region — clams, mussels and squid are very popular. Polenta is the other staple, often teamed with pork, and tiramisu originated in Venice. You’ll discover exotic ingredients such as pomegranates, raisins and nuts, and spiced foods — all very un-Italian and a legacy of Venice’s great seafaring past, with ingredients brought home from the maritime empire.
You can toast the purchase of your property in Veneto with some great local wines too. Bardolino, Soave and Valpolicella hail from Verona. There are good whites and reds, based on Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Biano, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Gewurtztraminer grapes and more. There are excellent white and rose proseccos, and Bassano di Grappa is the home of the local acqua vitae — the mind-numbingly strong spirit (liquor) we know from hard experience as grappa.
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