Buying Cultural Heritage in Italy

Buying a historic property in Italy?

Cultural heritage site: Trulli of AlberobelloItaly is rich in artistic and cultural heritage. In fact, the UNESCO committee has declared Italy the country with the most world heritage sites.  These cultural heritage sites comprise cities, towns, and real estate. View the full list of world heritage sites in Italy at UNESCO.

If you are considering purchasing a historic property in Italy, you should conduct specific technical and legal due diligence. Your checks should include property titles, zoning restrictions, building and planning compliance.

To preserve cultural heritage sites and listed buildings, specific heritage conservation regulations are in place. Known as Vincolo Paegistico, the regulations apply to listed properties and zones of historical or environmental importance. Vincolo Paegistico aim to protect listed sites and properties from any work that could damage heritage and aesthetic value. Therefore, any work, construction or modernisation must adhere to the regulations.

How do Vincolo Paegistico regulations work?

To build on land subject to Vincolo Paegistico restrictions you need detailed authorisation. Likewise if you want to make any changes to an existing listed property.

Vincolo Paegistico regulations are wide-ranging. They extend to building amnesties in the event of illegal work, including where work was carried out prior to the building becoming a listed property. They also include regulations regarding minimum distance from protected watercourses. Furthermore, restrictions exist pertaining to demolition and reconstruction.

The latter covers the exterior and interior of a listed property. It can therefore be a complex process to make even minor external and internal changes. This doesn’t mean renovations are impossible.

However, you will only be able to make changes once you have obtained detailed permission for the work. Authorisation will be granted by the Region, provided it does not affect the value or cultural importance of the property. The Region bases its decisions on a binding opinion from the Superintendency of Landscape and Environmental Heritage (Sovrintendenza ai Beni paesaggistici e ambientali).

How do I know if the property is listed or in a conservation area?

Before you proceed with your Italian property purchase, check whether the property or area is subject to any heritage conservation restrictions. To know exactly whether an area is subject to constraints, you can request a Certificato di sussistenza di vincolo paesistico (Certificate of the existence of conservation constraints). You can obtain this from the office for landscape protection in your respective Province or Region. A useful starting point is to look at the Regional Landscape Plan.

What should I do if my property is subject to heritage conservation constraints?

For any project on a listed building, you must submit detailed plans. If your plans are in accordance with regulations, Cultural Heritage Code (Legislative Decree 42/2004), you should be able to get permission. The provisions within the Code that regulate heritage conservation are Articles 136 and 142. These Articles specifically regulate the issue of authorisation by the competent body (Region). The Region verifies that planned work is compatible with the zoning status of the area / property and then issues the authorisation

Finally …

The key to making your Italian property project as safe and smooth as possible is to appoint a legal team that speaks your language. De Tullio Law Firm has a thorough understanding of Italian real estate law and decades of experience managing Italian property transactions.

Whether you are purchasing a property or planning a property project, we are right by your side. Get in touch with us: info@detulliolawfirm.com

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