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Italy - Probably The Most Beautiful Country In The World

Monday, June 11, 2012 the 195 countries on earth, it should come as no surprise that with 44 world heritage sites, Italy has more than any other country. Italy is steeped in history and myth, with the Roman Empire having ruled a large part of the world for hundreds of years, its effect on the progression of western society cannot be overstated. This is keenly felt throughout the continent, from its wonderful architectural remnants, to the food and wine, clothes worn, cars driven and the art that is loved, not to mention many linguistic roots.

All this from a country that is famed as one of the most beautiful and charismatic on the planet. Italy is made up of 20 regions, five of which are autonomous; Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Aosta Valley, Trentino-Alto Adige/S├╝dtirol, Sicily and Sardinia. Italy covers a land area of 294,020 sq km and has a population of circa 62 million in 2011.

In the north there is Valle d' Aosta where we find Italy's mountainous region. Here there are some of the Alps most awesome peaks; the Gran Paradiso, the Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn and Monte Bianco which is surrounded by an incredible national park where you can see a range of wildlife from ibex and chamois to eagle's. Further across to Trentino and Alto Adige the alpine circle continues, with layers of mountains and valleys. This is rugged Italy on an epic scale and is the place for those looking for both wild nature and grand history. There are many ancient castles that visitors can visit and book as vacation rentals, to enjoy a taste of old world hospitality.

For those looking for world class skiing, Italy offers skiing on a par with any other European or North American country and you will find amazing slopes all over the north east which is known for the Dolomites, a spectacular set of peaks that run through the area. You can find many holiday apartments and hotels here that offer luxury accommodation to complement an Italian ski vacation.

Another northern region of note is Veneto where the famous mythical city of Venice can be found, which is in itself a world heritage site. Otherwise known as "The Floating City" and "The City Of Masks". Luigi Barzini, writing in The New York Times, described it as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man" The city is connected via 117 tiny islands that sit in the Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic sea. A network of waterways join together the most beautiful collection of buildings built in one place. This is a must for anyone visiting Italy.

In the middle of the country there is the region of Tuscany, flanked by Umbria and Marche. All loved for their stunning fertile land, rolling hills and valleys. This part of Italy has been made famous by artists the world over and is regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Some of the greats of history such as Puccini, Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli and Dante derive from Tuscany. With world famous wines and a vast array of world heritage sites and hundreds of nature reserves throughout this part of the country, it is no surprise to learn that Tuscany alone draws more than 10 million visitors every year, making it one of the most visited places in the world.

Slightly further down the country in the region of Lazio, we find Rome, Italy's capital. A city that spans over two and a half thousand years and gave rise to an Empire that ran for seven hundred years. Rome is a magical city that breathes history from every pore. No other city even comes a close second to this grand metropolis. A living monument, where the past meets the present, with a reverence that only Rome knows. Here fashionista's in sharp dressed clothes, street performers, wizened priests and the roar of Vesper bikes play out onto a backdrop of ancient wonder.

Moving on and we find the southern section of the continental Peninsular and two large islands, namely, Sardinia and Sicily. To the south we can also find a large number of much smaller islands. This part of Italy is the place to come for those looking to escape the large crowds of the central and northern parts, as it makes up for just under half of the total land mass but with a fraction of the population. The south boasts amazing beaches but attracts less tourists than some of its European neighbors simply because Rome, Florence and Venice are usually the first stop for anyone traveling to Italy. As such this can make southern Italy a great choice if your looking for golden coastlines without the crowds that you could expect in Spain or Portugal.

As you might expect property prices vary considerably dependent upon where in the country you choose to buy. Apartments in Rome, Venice and the center of Florence can run into the millions. However, for the most part, Italy is a great country to find classic property at very competitive prices and throughout most of Italy it is possible to find rural properties for restoration from as little as €15,000. Anyone interested in taking on a restoration project, should keep in mind that the true cost of bringing your dream home to life will be considerably more once you have factored in necessary building materials and labor.

One bed houses in the central regions of Abruzzo and Umbria can be found for as little as €30,000. With two bed costal apartments going from €35,000 upwards. In fact, Italy is one of the best countries in Europe to find property at great prices and being that it is so well loved for history, culture, cuisine and natural beauty, investments here offer very good turn around as holiday rentals. A truly impressive country that is perfect for the aesthetically pleased.

A few pointers for buying property in Italy:• Find a respected estate agent and geometra, or technical expert to help you deal with the legal workings and 'famous' Italian bureaucracy. Once this is in place, the buying procedure is quite straight forward but a little slow, so be sure to have patience throughout.
• If you are looking for an Italian mortgage you must open an Italian bank account. Once this is done you can borrow up to 80% of the purchase price, providing the loan does not run for more than 35 years.
• Be sure that the property is really what you want before you sign a "Compromesso" since this is a legally binding document.
• Ensure get-out clauses are written into the preliminary contract for anything that has not been checked completely.
• Make sure that your property is properly surveyed.
• Before you buy you must obtain a deed of sale via the Italian consulate in your home country.
• Signing of the deed (rogito) should be observed by the seller, the property agent, the notary and the mortgage lender.