Lerici, Porto Venere or Bocca di Magra?

Where to buy a second home in the province of La Spezia and why according to the experts interviewed by Ville&Casali
entry image

Buying a house in Lerici on the spectacular Gulf of Poets remains the ultimate dream for many, particularly a detached house with sea views,” explains Raffaella Aversa in an interview with Ville&Casali. Aversa is the owner of the estate agents Geocasa of La Spezia, a company with more than 25 years’ experience specialising in luxury properties and with a new dedicated commercial network.“Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in sales to northern Italians and foreign buyers. The market in Bocca di Magra is also very much on the up following the redevelopment of the promenade, as is Sarzana, also in the Magra Valley, which boasts a characterful and much-loved centre”. Even the city of La Spezia itself, the heart of the Gulf of Poets, has found a new tourist identity in the shape of its renovated historic old town and Art Nouveau buildings, giving rise to the development of a buoyant holiday home market. However, housing stocks in the Cinque Terre remain low, particularly in Riomaggiore and Monterosso, which are the easiest to reach from the La Spezia and Levanto motorway exits. The Magra Valley is much loved by foreign visitors and many Italians alike, while Porto Venere is increasingly becoming the destination of choice for the well-to-do.

LERICI, QUEEN OF THE MARKET The “pearl” of the Gulf of Poets, with massive projects, infrastructure and a new 5 star hotel all in the pipeline, is set to become even more sought-after. “We are currently building two underground carparks boasting 600 spaces and redeveloping the entire seafront, from the Castle of Lerici to the San Terenzo Castle, which will ideally enclose the Gulf of Poets”, explains the town’s mayor Leonardo Paoletti. Not to mention that “the construction of La Valletta, a 5 star 100-room hotel, is set to be completed in 2023-2024, set in the hills between Lerici and San Terenzo”. Lerici is a village of 9,800 inhabitants that is full of life all year round, boasting shops, amenities, a cinema, Astoria, that only shows new films, as well as beaches that have been proudly flying the Blue Flag for years. As Daniela Cattini, owner of the local estate agents Casa con Vista, explains, the demographic of second home buyers seems to have changed: “Over the last two years, partly due to Covid, more and more executives in their mid-forties are coming to Lerici together with many foreign investors, whereas people on the verge of retirement used to account for the majority of buyers. This tourist resort is reachable by car from Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and France, as well as from Emilia Romagna and Lombardy in Italy, and is just one hour from Parma, one and a half hours from Reggio Emilia and two hours from Milan. There are also several airports just a stone’s throw away: 40 minutes from Pisa, one hour from Genoa and one and a half hours from Florence. As well as its beaches, it is also close to the inland region of Sarzana and to the cities of art of Pisa, Florence and Lucca.” According to Claudio Banchieri of the Banchieri Group, “for locals of Milan and Lombardy, a second home in Lerici is a must because it is the Gulf of Poet’s most accessible town and the most popular all year round”. Not only that, Lerici also boasts extremely expensive historic apartments, like the traditional villas sold to the great industrialists of northern Italy. There is also another reason to buy. “Up until around 7 years ago, a renovated apartment in piazza Garibaldi close to the sea would have cost 10,000 per square metre. That has now fallen to 7,000- 7,500. However, further from the sea, in Guercio or Senato, where building was rife in the past, 1960s properties are in abundance and can be purchased for 2,000- 2,500 per square metre”. In short, concludes Valeria Ricci, president of the Province of La Spezia’s Italian Federation of Professional Estate Agents (FIAIP), “the Gulf of Poet’s property market was very buoyant in 2021, and this includes rentals”. 


THE ALTERNATIVE: BOCCA DI MAGRA Bocca di Magra is well known among sailors. Over the years, this traditional fishing village has evolved into a renowned tourist resort that has attracted great writers like Montale, Pasolini, Einaudi and Vittorini since the Second World War. It boasts several docks for pleasure boating and boat charter services. “Property prices range from 1,500 to 2,500 per square metre for apartments, and 3,800 to 4,200 for detached houses”, Ricci explains, “while in Sarzana, in the Magra Valley, apartments cost from 1,200 to 1,900 per square metre, and houses up to 3,000 per square metre”. The coastline is spectacular and extends from the beaches of Marinella di Sarzana to the rocks and cliffs of Tellaro. “This last stretch that passes through Fischerino is the most popular and sought-after destination on the Gulf of Poets, and the market has been very strong for the last two years,” explains Gianmarco Bozzia, owner of La Tua Casa al Mare, “but the detached housing stock is now depleted”. In contrast, detached houses with garden and views of the Magra river or of the sea if in a hilly location can still be found in the Magra Valley, not to mention apartments just a stone’s throw from the sea in Bocca di Magra. Renovated properties are the most popular. The Magra Valley is increasingly sought-after not only for the beauty and uniqueness of its places, but also for the plethora of amenities and companies offering job opportunities. “The most popular properties are units close to the sea with one or two bedrooms and a little outside space from which to enjoy views of the sea or the river”, explains Bianca Migliorini, owner of Migliorini estate agents. She adds that “the most sought-after locations are those closest to the sea like Montemarcello, Bocca di Magra and Punta Bianca, but also Sarzana, a medieval town that attracts an interesting clientele in the summer. Properties in good condition or that only require minor cosmetic changes can be purchased for 150,000- 180,000”. But according to Gianmarco Bozzia, house prices in Fiumaretta and Bocca di Magra “can range from 600,000 to 3 million depending on their location”.

PORTO VENERE FOR THE WELL-TO-DO Cheyenne Raviolo, owner of Prestige estate agents of La Spezia (www. prestigeimmobili.it), and Christian Ostet from Ar92, a company that specialises in the international promotion of tourist properties in Liguria, believe that the Gulf of Poets has great potential and should step out of the shadow of the Cinque Terre and the nearby area of Versilia. For example, little Porto Venere (UNESCO World Heritage Site), which is accessed by a single road that descends through the town and forms a ring, “has, since 2020, been overwhelmed by hundreds of Italians from Lombardy fleeing the cities due to the pandemic,” explains Raviolo, “whereas before they used to go to the Riviera di Ponente. I have sold ten properties to Italians from Brescia, Bergamo and Milan since last September alone”. Why so much interest? “There’s no train”, she replies. “You can only get there by car, which means the influx of tourists is more under control, plus the fact that the pearl of the Gulf of Poets is becoming more and more exclusive. Within two years, we will have three 5 star hotels: The Grand Hotel Porto Venere, which is already open; the Royal, purchased by the Paletti family from Milan, which already owns the Grand Hotel Porto Venere, and the San Pietro Hotel owned by Denegri from Turin (billionaire entrepreneur, owner of DiaSorin company)”. It is no coincidence that Serie A footballers and other celebrities have already invested here, buying in the lanes and alleyways of the village or penthouses outside of the old town. “Now, even medium-sized 100-120-square metre apartments are being sold that before would not even have made it to the market,” claims Raviolo. “Properties have recently been sold for 10,000 per square metre,” she concludes. An example? A 120-square metre penthouse in the village was sold in the last couple of months for 950,000 (to which 2,000 per square metre must be added for renovation), while a renovated historic apartment with no garage but with two windows boasting sea views recently sold for 600,000. For those who love comfort and their own parking space, 1,250,000 would secure a 130-square metre renovated apartment with terraces overlooking the sea”.

Published on Ville&Casali May 2022
Continue reading on digital version