If you've ever wanted your own Italian palace, castle or other historic property (and really, who doesn't?), here's some happy news from the Wall Street Journal.
The Italian government, along with cities and other public agencies, are putting billions of euros of surplus properties on the block as a way of raising revenue. Prime Minister Mario Monti's plan for the economy includes the sale of 350 buildings (along with cuts to public spending and other austerity measures). The government hopes to raise about $1.86 billion through the property sales, according to the Agenzia del Demanio, the agency that manages the state's real-estate assets.
The 350 properties include army barracks in Bologna, which were formerly occupied by the Defense Ministry, and Soriano nel Cimino's Orsini Castle, in the Lazio region, which was built by a pope in the 1270s and later used as a prison. In Venice, which is selling 18 buildings, history buffs can buy the 18th century Diedo Palace, which served as a criminal court for years and is now being marketed to foreign investors by Hera Immobiliare. Milan is selling more than 100 buildings, including the Palazzo Bolis Gualdo at 12 Via Bagutta, in the city's fashion district.
We wouldn't be a bit surprised if some of these historic gems were grabbed up by savvy hoteliers. Keep an eye out for a boom in boutique properties housed in former palaces in coming years.