Puglia, the sun-brushed heel of Italy’s “boot”, has traditionally played the role of the nation’s country cousin: warm, sleepy and unsophisticated. Despite its baroque hill towns, chalky beaches and plentiful olive groves, it only began to be noted on the international market about 10 years ago.
In that short time, however, Puglia seems to have arrived as a status destination. This year foreign interest in the region overtook Tuscany for the first time, attracting 40 per cent of all inquiries in Italy, according to Annabel Smith of Jackson-Stops and Staff.
Puglia has now established itself “as a trophy destination, like Capri or Portofino,” says interior architect Nigel Wilson, a Londoner who moved to the region to start a restoration business 11 years ago. While well-heeled international buyers haven’t deserted Tuscany — it continues to draw 30 per cent of inquiries at Jackson-Stops and Staff — some feel that the area dubbed “Chianti-shire” for its red wines and British visitors has reached saturation point.
“Tuscany is too polished now,” says Wilson, “whereas Puglia still has that authentic feel. When I moved here you couldn’t even get a Diet Coke.”
The interest in Puglia comes at a time of uncertainty in the Italian property market. Prices have fallen 20 to 30 per cent since the 2008 financial crash. Yet there are signs that the stagnant property market is starting to stir again.
Both inquiries and transactions in 2016 have…
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