Taking care of a castle in Italy used to be something that was relatively affordable, with yearly taxes often much lower than the maintenance costs on an apartment in the U.S. Many castles had been in the family for generations. But in the midst of the Eurocrisis, in 2011, taxes on historic buildings in the country increased by 20 or 30 times. Suddenly, owners who had previously been paying 3,000 euros were on the hook for 75,000 euros. As a consequence, several dozen castle-owners put their magnificent estates up for sale, or were forced to abandon them if they did not sell (apparently there is not much of a market for castles located outside of tourist regions, like Tuscany). “It is not necessarily true that the owner is a millionaire, like one can assume in countries like the United States or England,” Dimitri Corti, chief executive at Lionard, a real estate company that is currently selling 70 castles, told the New York Times. “Some do need liquidity.”
Castello Pontassieve, a few miles east of Florence, is one of the newly deserted castles. The medieval fortress once served as a refuge for a number of aristocrats who plotted against the powerful Medici family back in Renaissance times. The six-bedroom castle, along with its church, vineyards, and olive groves, is listed for 4.7M euros ($5.3M).
Tavolese Castle, south of Florence, is a 14th-century castle that was converted a few years ago into a bed and breakfast. It was mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and was once the family home of the Renaissance poet Petrarch. According to the New York Times, “the fruits of the estate’s 5,000 olive trees have not been picked for years, and the newlyweds’ bed from last summer remains unmade.” It has been listed for 18M euros ($20M).