Live the Dolce Vita for Less in “Secret” Italy

It wasn’t just love at first sight—it was love all the way. Every day in Italy’s Maremma region brought a new treasure town, a new delight, a new taste. The cacciucco fish stew in Livorno…the wild boar in the former brigand stronghold of Suverato…pale green olive oil…fennel-studded salami…ruby-red Morellino di Scansano wine.

I adore everything about this area of Italy: the flocks of jewel-bright bee-eater birds…the way the beach at Populonia forms a perfect golden sickle around the sapphire sea…the timeless meadows of corn poppies.

The Maremma is where southern Tuscany meets Lazio, the region that includes Rome. Though there are a handful of seaside towns, the Maremma coastline is mostly undeveloped—much of it is a National Park.

Often rising from a sea of green woods, its medieval towns are so visually pleasing, it’s impossible to choose a favorite.

Massa Marittima is a splendor of piazzas and palazzi.

Magliano in Toscana slumbers inside mighty defensive walls built hundreds of years ago. Pitigliano teeters like a fairytale vision above a tufa (a kind of limestone) rock cliff.

A real highlight was the ancient town of Saturnia, with its thermal pools at Saturnia. Saturnia was a sacred bathing place to the Etruscans—the mysterious civilization who inhabited this area long before the Romans. Today, the locals still do as the Etruscans did. They don’t bother with the fancy spa. Instead, they bathe in the natural pools for free.

Although many of Maremma’s settlements are within a 90-minute to two-hour drive of Pisa, Florence and Rome itself, it’s relatively unknown to most foreign vacationers. That helps lend it a “Secret Italy” feel, and also keeps prices down.
So, if you thought you couldn’t afford to live in glamorous Tuscany, think again. Here, I found a quaint stone village house, restored, on three levels for just $157,000…and there are similar properties for even less than that.

On Lago di Bolsena, a volcanic crater lake, Bolsena is a town of gardens, medieval miracles and flower festivals.

Given the setting and with so many intriguing places to explore within easy reach, Lake Bolsena is enticingly affordable. At IL’s last event, I told attendees about a 540-square-foot (small villa) on the market for $103,500. Rentals too—you could rent a two-bedroom, two-bathroom furnished apartment with living space of 807 square feet for $590 per month.

During my Maremma trip, I stayed a few days in a self-catering cottage just outside Magliano in Toscana. Doves murmuring in the trees. Little lizards scurrying across sun-warmed tiles. Breakfast on the patio in the sunshine. This is part of what the fabled (the sweet life) is all about.

The Maremma isn’t the only option for an Italian adventure, of course. Come along to IL’s Fast Track Your Retirement Overseas Conference in Las Vegas, and you can talk to me, in person, about how affordable “Secret Italy” and the sweet life can be…

Or ask me more about the best and most affordable retirement havens Europe has to offer. As Europe expert, I can help you find your perfect destination.

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