​Buying bonanza: Russians hunt for Italian castles in 'strategic locations'

Several dozen historical Italian castles are up for sale, their owners unable to pay maintenance costs and high taxes. But Russian buyers are stepping in, searching for properties in "strategic locations."

The head of Italy's Lionard Luxury Real Estate, which has 1,500 properties in its portfolio, told RT that well over half of their clients come from Russia and former USSR.

As oil prices have fallen below $60 a barrel and the rouble hit a new record low against the euro and dollar earlier this week, amid threats of new economic sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Heath told RT his company still foresees "much more business with the Russians in the future."

"We work very hard to develop the Russian market, considering their interest in the luxury property segment and Italian goods," Ian Heath said.

Up to 70 privately-owned castles are currently on the market, prices spanning from €1,200 to €8,500 per square meter, the Italian edition of The Local reported.

"An excellent discount can be negotiated on certain properties," Heath said.

He said Russians usually ask "to find properties in interesting, strategic locations. They prefer Tuscany and areas around the Italian lakes."

Among the castles for sale is the legendary Castello di Tavolese, which once belonged to the family of a military leader from Dante Alighieri’s Inferno. The property, which comes with a church and 62 hectares of parkland in Chianti, is up for grabs for between €10 million and €20 million.