Painting a brighter future for Italian property

  • 12 years ago
  • Uncategorized

Take a stroll around Liguria’s countryside and you’ll see
lots of empty hilltop villages. Deserted communities, whose residents fled long
ago to the cities during the country’s economic boom. Now, these ghost towns
sit unoccupied, unwanted by homeowners and buyers alike.

Except for one.

Montalto Ligure, in the commune of Imperia, is buzzing with
activity. A group of overseas investors moved in years ago and have since been
doing up the crumbling homes and creating their own ideal retreat.


One of them is Marina Bretschneider (, a
German artist and designer who lives in the area and was inspired by one
property’s potential.


“She called me back in Cologne and said she wanted me to see
something,” says her financial backer and close friend, Jörg Neubauer. “It was
this old building, completely in ruins! And she said: ‘This is going to be my


That was six years ago. Now, the 17th Century
house stands proud as the highest property in the village. Living there with
her daughter, Marina presides over a house of art that combines medieval walls,
modern furnishings, Italian lifestyle and German ideas. 


The unobstructed views of the Carpesina valley from the 75
square-foot balcony are breathtaking, while the South-West terrace has
panoramic vistas of the beguiling, green landscape. But the natural beauty
almost pales in comparison to the manmade wonders inside.


Each of the nine cavernous rooms, with ceilings reaching up
to 16 feet, is a stunning piece of design, filled with work from friends and
colleagues. Of course, Jörg explains, it isn’t included in the asking price.


“When people visit, they often ask if they can buy some of
the furniture or the artwork,” he tells me. “Marina won’t sell everything, but
you could more or less buy it like it is.”


A large fresco painting adorns the wall of the large
bathroom, complete with retro bateau bathtub. Tiled and parquet floors stretch
between the antique doors, while the traditional Tuscan stove begs to be fired



But I only have eyes for the main feature in the living
room: an open fireplace, above which is a bricked-in relief of Michelangelo’s
Madonna of the Stairs.


“It’s not the original, obviously!” laughs Jörg. “But Marina
is friends with the guy who makes replicas of artworks for every notable museum
in the country – this is exactly the same high-end reproduction, directly from
a negative mould of the original, with every scratch and detail.”


That alone would be enough to boost the house price, I
suggest. Not to mention the four bedrooms. Why sell the property for only
€480,000? If it were round the corner in Monaco, it’d be going for up to eight
times that amount.


“Marina’s daughter in Italy has left middle school and gone
to high school in Florence. Now my friend lives alone in a 200 square metre
house. It’s like playing football with yourself! Besides, the time comes when
you have to stand back and try and make your money back on an investment.”



It certainly strikes you as an investment worth making. Last
year, German business magazine Capital
highlighted nearby Menton and Nice as “the two most valuable European locations
for holiday homes”. Just across the border from both, Montalto’s house of art is a smart
alternative. With beaches only 6 miles away and an international airport one
hour’s drive, you could make around €40,000 a year renting the house out to


He nods. “There’s no other holiday home with this many
bedrooms up for rent in the area.”


It helps, of course, that Montalto is always active. People
from across the globe live there all year round, he tells me.


“I come from Cologne,” he says, “which is known for its
interesting lifestyle, but I find more fascinating people in Montalto and
around the local area whenever I visit! It’s an Italian cultural monument in
its own right!”


Indeed, looking at the lively community, it’s hard to
believe that the building behind him used to be an old ruin on an abandoned


From the stone ages to the Renaissance in just six years?
Italy’s economy may look bleak, but Jörg and Marina’s work in Montalto proves
that sometimes all it takes is a little Italian inspiration to paint a brighter


And some Germany creativity, of course.

Live in your own house of art today for just €479,990:

Find out more – or make an enquiry.

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