This little-known area of northern Italy could provide an excellent investment.
THE VALTARO and VALCENO are located in the province of Parma in the Emilia Romagna region, in a triangle of land where Emilia meets Liguria and Tuscany, these regions being just ten kilometres away.
Tuscan and Ligurian influences can be found in the towns and villages of the two valleys and particularly in the local cuisine and traditions.
Both valleys nestle in the Apennines, with an average altitude of 500 to 600 metres. The climate is very pleasant from April to October, while in winter snowfall of 20 to 30 centimetres can be expected.
The Valtaro is 40 minutes from Parma by car and just 50 minutes from the Tuscan and Ligurian coasts. The nearest airports are: Pisa (70 minutes), Genova, Milano Linate and Bologna (90 minutes).
Although steeped in history, everywhere it is clear that the area also looks to the future.
There are ancient castles at Compiano, Bardi, Varsi and Varano Melegari and elegant palazzi at Borgotaro. The rich heritage of the past has been lovingly restored, preserving its fascination for future generations. Todayï¿½s road system has developed from important communication and trade routes, including the Via Francigena pilgrim road established in the 11th century.
When the heat of a summerï¿½s day makes you long for a cooling dip, head for the rivers. Both the Taro and Ceno are blessed with many pools of crystal-clear water, while Borgotaro, Berceto and Bedonia have fine municipal swimming pools for those who wish to relax in a little more luxury.
The areaï¿½s location on the borders of Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and Liguria ensures a rich variety of cuisine. As well as the world-famous Parma ham and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, there is a vast variety of pasta dishes and breads and specialities based on mushrooms and chestnuts. Meals can be rounded off, if you still have room, with legendary local cakes and desserts. One ingredient worthy of special note is a type of mushroom, the fungo porcino di Borgotaro, the only mushroom in Europe to be awarded an IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) mark.
A WWF nature sanctuary situated in the Borgotaro and Albareto local authority areas aims to preserve the character of the countryside.
This does not mean simply protecting the plants and animals. There are places where man has succeeded in exploiting the natural resources without destroying them.
Here new environments have been created: hedges, market gardens, dry stone walls. The Ghirardi nature sanctuary protects a corner of the Apennines which has survived through the ages, keeping it just as it has always been. It covers 600 hectares and contains a vide variety of environments: meadow, scrubland, woods of oak and other trees, cliffs, shingle river beds, lakes and ponds, grazing and heathland.
A great number of these rural stone houses can be found in our valleys. Over the last few years many buyers have sniffed out a bargain and have not hesitated to get their hands on one of these beautiful properties. Some say that our Valleys will soon follow in the footsteps of nearby Tuscany becoming the new 'Valtaroshire', an increase in the number of foreign buyers and leisure facilities would seem to confirm such a notion.
It is a rather secure investment, the prices are still low compared to those in other, more exploited areas, so in the upcoming years an notable increase in value of the investment is more than likely. To give an example: a house purchased for 50.000 euro in 1997 is now easily worth double.
Found all over the Parma province, many of the most beautiful examples of rural stone houses are to be found the high valleys of the Taro, the Ceno and the Baganza rivers. Here they range from peasant cottages to landowners' estate houses. Many are in a state of dilapidation and decay but their character and attraction have not faded, all they need is someone to see their potential, and with love and attention restore them to their former beauty and charm. Some are for sale and can be found on our site, updated daily. Prices start from as little as ï¿½20.000 and we are here to give you all the help and advice you need.
A stone house can be considered an alternative house. It fits into its natural surroundings without blatant contrasts, it has its own style and beauty and is shrouded in history. Built from natural local materials it falls in to the category of eco-building, a new word for an ancient art of house building! These houses, built of dry stone walls, roofed with stone slabs (now all to often replaced by modern roofing tiles) usually have an external staircase leading to the living quarters as the ground floor was almost always used for housing livestock, as well as a barn and surrounding grounds.
The cost of total restoration of a stone house is around 1000 Euro per square metre. This includes all building work, plumbing, electricity and decoration.
Immobiliare Valtaro has been operating in this area since 1960 and has earned a name for professionalism and reliability. The agency specialises in the acquisition of country properties as described on previous page.