Can’t say No to a Rustico

 Ever thought about escaping urban life and breathing the fresh air of the mountains?  Then you are not alone and maybe a ‘rustico’ could be an ideal property for you. 

The demand for rustici  
Since the Covid pandemic which brought to the fore new ways of working – ‘smart working’, ‘working from home’, ‘flexible working’ which mark a shift to working remotely, from the home, the shed or anywhere else but the traditional work place.  Accompanying this geographical shift in the work place is the shift in time, the traditional 9-5 working day is fast becoming consigned to history, even the sacrosanct time slots for meetings have moved to online.  As a result there is less time spent within the ‘office’ with work taking a more of a Martini approach “anytime, any place, anywhere”  
Furthermore, the increased awareness in ‘green’, ‘ecological’ and the environment in general has seen a shift in the perception and appreciation of nature and its’ surroundings.  
These new ways of working, subsequent waves of covid and greater awareness in the environment has attributed to an increase in demand for second homes at Lake Como.  Many purchasers are aware of the natural beauty of the lake, the crystal clear water, the greenery along the shore line – the Mediterranean climate enabling, olive, lemon, fig, walnut and hazelnut trees to flourish in abundance.  The mountains that surround the lake are covered with pine and chestnut forests and mountain pastures and help create the lake’s micro climate, it is where the air is the purest and increasingly where people want to spend more time, especially in the summer months 

What is a rustico?  
Dotted around the mountain pastures old buildings (alpeggi) can be found once used by farmers who would take their animals up to the mountain pastures and live there with them during the summer months.  
These alpeggi (plural) are also referred to as ‘rsutici’ (plural of rustico) and today many appear in a state of disrepair, with parts missing – walls or roofs and are badly in need of renovation.  Some of these ‘rustici’ remained in families for years being handed down generation to generation, maintained/updated and used for weekend retreats or summer holidays for family and friends.  
The owners of others however, decide to sell, falling out of love with their rustico and these are seen as hidden gems by those looking for a second home for weekend and summer breaks and are especially sought after by the new smart workers and eco lovers.  This new demand is not restricted to Italian residents, purchasers from neighbouring European countries are targeting Lake Como’s ‘rustici’ for second homes and why wouldn’t they?  Working close to nature, fantastic elevated views of Lake Como and the chance to walk amongst the mountain pastures and forests or take a short trip down to the lake, what more could you ask for?

Thinking of buying a rustico?  
When undertaking your research for a rustico, you will find that they are generally lower priced than properties that can be found in towns and villages closer to the shores of Lake Como, some considerably less, which appear absolute bargains.  But these properties are marketed at lower prices for a number of reasons and so two words to bear in mind ‘buyer beware’, as these properties require further considerations than would be expected from purchasing any other resale property.  The following list is indicative of what needs to be considered:

  • Access – it sounds obvious but how accessible is the rustico, does it have vehicular access?  Does it require a 4x4?  What size of vehicle (think about trades people accessing the property)?  Is vehicle access directly to the property or does stop some distance from it?
  • Services - what services (water/electricity) are connected or within close proximity to connect to?  What would be the cost to connect to these services?  What of foul water, is there a septic tank?  Consider associated services it is more than likely especially if considering ‘smart working’ that connecting to the internet is essential, how can this be achieved?
  • Finance - considering applying for an Italian mortgage, then currently banks will provide a mortgage to foreign purchasers for up to 50% loan to value, how will the bank view your rustico and more importantly what value would they place on it – especially if services are not connected and or the property is in a poor condition structurally
  • Renovating – it is highly likely that you will need to employ the services of a number of professionals, two main ones would be an architect (geometra), as it is more often than not you will want to change the physical appearance of  the rustico.  A general rule of thumb is that rustici cannot be modified from the original footprint of the building however, it is acceptable to modify the internal layout.  The second a carpenter (falegname) as undoubtedly the rustico will have wooden joists, doors, shutters etc., and so a good carpenter is a must
  • Planning - apart from access to trades people, what are the rules governing property renovations, will a change of use be required?  Any aesthetic, environmental issues from building regulations perspectives?
  • Usage – dependant upon the time that will be spent at your rustico how will you secure your property when it is not being used?  If there is a garden area/land attached to the rustico how will this be maintained and secured?

The above list is by no means exhaustive and will probably give rise to other considerations or questions that specifically relate to purchasing properties of this type, so the advice is go further with your research and ask questions of the agent selling it

Rusticno - a hillside paradise  
But not all rustici on sale are run down or left in a state of disrepair, some which have been in regular use by the owners can provide a pleasant surprise to interested purchasers and as might be expected will be priced higher.  Others might have been purchased in a state of disrepair and subsequently updated, used for a number of years and are then placed on the property market.  
One such property ‘Casa Antica’ marketed and recently sold (within a short space of time) by Gemma Immobiliare defied the term ‘rustico’.  
Set on the hillside above the pretty village of Ossuccio ‘Casa Antica’ is one of the best renovated rustici that we have sold.  ‘No expense spared’ was the owners mantra in painstakingly renovating their rustico to a very high standard.  The internal layout and superior finishings complementing the stunning, far reaching lake and mountains views.  
Access to Casa Antica requires a small 4X4 (Fiat Panda/Suzuki Jimny) due to the width of the road in parts and the incline of the terrain, with the driving takes 10 minutes, alternatively a good uphill hike of 45 minutes.  
Casa Antica, contained hand made furniture and shutters and the layout included a large lounge, a large double bedroom, a separate kitchen, a cantina and an outdoor jacuzzi.  Solar panels a superb rain water collection system and a feature fireplace create an element of self sufficiency.  The property has a nice garden and vegetable patch to the front and towards the rear a small wooded are containing walnut, fig and other fruit bearing trees.  
The price of this beautiful detached one bedroom property was just under €300,000 and it was snapped up by a couple who were looking to spend more time in the natural beauty of the countryside whilst working ‘smartly’ from their newly purchased ‘rusticno’, (completely renovated hillside paradise)

Work smartly to grab your rustico  
Our beautiful Lake Como is known and loved by people from all over the globe and attracts VIPs and celebrities who holiday, get married, shoot promo videos etc., etc.  it has been the backdrop for many films and has never gone out of fashion with those seeking to experience the charms of Lake Como.  Now, different parts of the lake, the mountain areas are the attraction for the new ‘visitors’ the ‘work smartly’, the ‘working from home’ the green, eco’ who look to the hillsides.  
So, ‘work smartly’ and start researching Lake Como from top (Sorico) to bottom (Como Town), research the lakeside towns and villages and above these you’ll find smaller hamlets research these e.g. above Lenno – Nara, above Gravedona – Vercana, above Gera Lario – Trezzone.  Also research ‘rifugi’ (refuges) mountain rest places for hikers and the routes to and from these rifugi to see other hamlets.  Between hillside hamlets and rifugi you will find rustici and in the lakeside towns and villages below you will find real estate agencies that will have a number of these rustici in their portfolio of properties.  Some of the rustici within our portfolio (past and present) are found above the lakeside towns and villages of Ossuccio, Sala Comacina and Lenno.  
Now armed with some of the information above (Thinking of buying a rustico?) you can start refining your hunt for your perfect rustico or rusticno (finished article), but not only ‘work smartly’ you must work quickly as the demand for rustici is on the increase.






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