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Villa Camerata in Florence

Italy Auctions Properties

Have you ever dreamed of owning a villa in Florence or perhaps a palazzo in the Emilia Romagna city of Piacenza? Now might be your chance, as the Italian government will auction dozens of historic buildings across the country.

The government has decided to sell the properties to private owners to acquire a bit of pocket change – ideally in the vicinity of one billion euros. Ninety-three properties are up for auction, ranging from an ex-convent in Venice to an army barracks in Cuneo.

The Italian government owns a huge number of buildings, donated to or confiscated by the state over the years, which stand unused and are costly for authorities to maintain. The government hopes the auctions will raise around €950 million. But even if the properties only go for their auction starting prices, €145 million will be raised. This is good news for anyone who is interested in buying and restoring a unique piece of Italian history.

The Agenzia del Demanio (Italy’s state property agency) has listed the properties online ahead of the auctions, complete with photos, videos and virtual tours of the properties. While many are priced in the millions of euros, there are also some more modestly-priced properties going under the hammer. From a lighthouse in Calabria to prestigious palazzos, here are some of the properties you can bid on.

One of the most interesting properties is Villa Camerata located in Florence. Built in 1427 and extensively expanded in the 17th century, it was originally owned by the Ridolfi Calzolai family, rivals of the Medicis. Set among parkland on the slopes of the Fiesole Hill to the north-east of Florence, the villa is currently a youth hostel with over 300 beds. The government acknowledges that the new owners will need to do some refurbishment. The starting auction price is a mere €7.4 million.

In Bologna, the once-grand Palazzina Magnani is a two-story villa complete with an arcaded gallery overlooking a garden. Construction on the palace began in 1577. Among the most important artworks in the interior is the frescoed frieze of Histories of the Foundation of Rome executed in 1590 by the brothers Ludovico, Annibale and Agostino Carracci in the salone on the piano nobile. Also notable is the monumental fireplace by Ambrosini, decorated by statues of Minerva and Mars. Bids start at €1.9 million.

Palazzo Costa Ferrari is a historic palazzo in central Piacenza, a short distance from central Piazza Cavalli. This vast building has three internal courtyards and its construction is an emblematic example of the late-Renaissance Piacenza architecture. Until recently it served as the home of the Provincial Tax Commission. Starting price: €3.1 million

By far the most expensive property up for auction is the former convent of San Salvador in central Venice. Near the Rialto Bridge in the San Marco district, the property enjoys an excellent location. In 1921, the complex was used by the telephone company. The property is in excellent state and no doubt this large, prestigious property will be snapped up by a hotel developer with its central location, large courtyard and frescoed halls. Bids start at €28 million.

For those who love the sea, how about your very own lighthouse? Built in 1923, the Capo Trionto lighthouse is the last one on the Ionian coast of Calabria and is situated about 100 yards from the sea. Sold as part of a small complex of buildings, it is immersed in unspoiled nature. Located on a cape on the west side of the Golfo di Taranto in Mirto, the starting price for the auction is €309,000.

Fort Barbarigo, Venice, is a very unique plot of land that comes with its own ruined fort, dating back to 1800 and currently belongs to the Italian navy. It is in Ca Roman, on the southern edge of the coastline that separates the Venice lagoon from the sea and forms part of the UNESCO-listed area of central Venice and its lagoon. Bids start at €690,000.

Finally, for those who want to get away from it all, how about an Italian Army outpost in Cuneo in the Piedmont region? This mountain ledge at 6,200 feet above sea level was once a remote army base and is at the beginning of hiking trails through the Valle Varaita. Its starting price is only €130.000!